Misty, a golden retriever owned by Dorene Davis from Holiday, Fla., and Thomas, an American shorthair cat owned by Sharon Decuir from Fort Worth, Texas, are the canine and feline grand prize winners of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc.’s America’s Fittest Pets Contest.
The announcement was made Jan. 19 at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Fla., at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex.
The contest, one part of Hill’s participation in the AVMA/Hill’s Alliance for Healthier Pets—Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program, encouraged pet owners to work with their veterinary health care teams to make changes in their pets’ lifestyles and feeding habits to help them lose weight. These changes came through regular veterinary weigh-ins, monitored feeding, including the introduction of Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d brand pet food, and advocating regular physical activity.
Through the program, Misty went from 118 pounds to 78 pounds and Thomas went from more than 17 pounds to 15.8 pounds. While Thomas' 1.2 pounds loss is the equivalent of a 130 pound woman losing 10 pounds. Decuir also announced that she lost 30 pounds herself just by being more health conscious.
Other canine contestants included Behlee, a Jack Russell terrier owned by Caitlin Kinnaman from Troy, Mo., Jasper, a Labrador retriever owned by Tom Wicklund from Medford, Ore., and Cody and Moe, both Labrador retrievers owned by Jane Wrubel from New Port Richey, Fla.
Entries were judged on the following criteria: creative writing style in telling the story of the pet’s weight loss experience, expression of the challenges faced and overcome, the resulting percentage of body weight lost and the effect the pet’s weight loss has had on the pet owner and family.
The grand prize winners were determined by a panel of judges including nationally recognized personal trainer, Gunnar Peterson, I. Craig Prior, BVSc, veterinary health care team member at Murphy Road Animal Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., and Kathy Wright, creative director at Kids and K-9s for Healthy Choices in Ocala, Fla.
Hill’s is continuing the message about the pet obesity epidemic into 2009. Updated tactics include providing improved communication and compliance kits to veterinary clinics across the country, and beginning in March, the broadcast of radio and television public service announcements. These PSAs will highlight the dangers of obesity and the importance of routine pet checkups with a veterinarian.
More than 12,000 Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kits were requested by pet hospitals across the United States in the first year of the program. In addition, PetFit.com obtained more than 80,000 unique visitors including more than 16,000 individuals agreeing to sign the PetFit Challenge pledge, a symbol of a renewed commitment to their pet’s health, according to Hill’s.
Veterinary health care teams may request a 2009 Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kit by calling 1-888-7-PETFIT or visiting PetFit.com.