Petaluma, California - Scandal broke out at the annual Marin-Sonoma County Fair's World's Ugliest Dog competition last Friday. As officials had to revoke the Crown awarded to "Elwood," then believed to be a 2-year-old crossbreed mix of Chinese Crested and Chihuahua, when they discovered to their horror it was not actually a canine at all that they bestowed the title World's Ugliest Dog, but a Mexican sewer rat.
Officials became suspicious when after they had just awarded, "Postal," the World's Ugliest Cat, and the two were to pose for pictures for the media. While on stage posing for the cameras, Elwood became nervous and jumpy, and then suddenly leaped from his owner's hands onto the stage with Postal, in hot pursuit.
"I had no idea it was a Mexican sewer rat," said Karen Quigly, the owner of Elwood. "I purchased him by mail order from a puppy mill in China. They assured me Elwood was half Chihuahua. I mean he looked like he was half Chihuahua. Right?"
Veterinarians warn it is a common mistake. "It happens more often then you think," said Paul Gonzales, veterinarian. "People come in with their Chihuahua's for a checkup only for me to discover they really have a Mexican sewer rat for a dog."
According to his owner, Elwood was very popular with all the cats in the neighborhood too, who liked to follow him around every time she took him for a walk.
"I just thought cats liked him," said Quigly. "I never realized they were trying to eat him."
"The rules are very clear," said an official for the event. "The contestants must belong to the canine species, not rodent. We had no choice but to revoke the crown, title, and force the forfeiture of the 1,000 prize money."
Officials say they may have to exclude Chihuahuas altogether form the event if they are unable to make a clearer distinction between the species by next year's competition.
"That will be difficult," continued Gonzales. "It's almost impossible at times. I often have to result to taking a DNA sample to make a positive identity. But that can be expensive and the results can take several weeks."
Sadly, each year dozens of Chihuahuas are brought to Gonzales that were mistakenly taken for a rat that were caught in traps set in peoples basements. Currently, Gonzales is working with the American Canine Society to develop a cheaper and faster litmus test to help better distinguish Chihuahuas from Mexican sewer rats, but they are still a ways off.