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Dogs Run the Show at Compo Beach

The sound of barking was in the air at Westport's Compo Beach on Saturday afternoon at the second annual Westport Animal Shelter Advocates' Top Dog Show event. And for first-time attendees Heather Witt and her dog Maple, the event was worth the drive from their Easton home.

"There are a lot of cute, fun competitions. I'm happy we came," said Heather, a dog trainer and behaviorist. "We're surrounded by dogs and people who love dogs. What's not to like?"

To make their day even better, Maple, a 5-year-old Leonberger and therapy dog, won a first place ribbon in the K-9 Trick contest, judged by local actor James Naughton .

Besides being among friends and winning a blue ribbon, Heather said events like this help keep dog owners in the know. And she's been training dogs for more than 20 years and is the director of the Riedel & Cody Fund , a site for people who have pets with cancer.

"It's a great opportunity for education. People from different organizations come to these events," Heather said, pointing to the vendors.

Drawing hundreds of dogs and their owners, this year's Top Dog Show featured a variety of contests, including a pet and owner look-a-like contest, a best kisser contest, and a "face only a mother could love" contest. Several dog-related vendors, such as Doggie Doo Not , silent auctions, and a pet adoption area were among the other perks.

Organized by WASA, a nonprofit group that is dedicated to the care and shelter of abandoned or lost animals in Fairfield County, proceeds will benefit Westport Animal Control , a no-kill shelter owned and operated by the town, WASA volunteer Linda Mezzullo said.

"WAC is totally separate from the Humane Society, which is also in Westport," she said. "Money raised today will go toward the completion of outdoor runs at the shelter and help provide continued care for the homeless animals at the shelter."

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