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Charlotte, NC— Cooper, a 2-year-old brown male boxer, has been chosen as winner of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department’s 2012 Top Dog Photo Contest. The photo is a close-up of Cooper as he stares directly into the camera. Cooper is owned by Suzanne Long of Concord.

The winning photo received more than 4,000 votes during the online voting period (April 2 - 16) on The other two finalists were  Nala, a 3-year old Blue Tick Walker mix, and McGrady, a 5-year old Australian Shepherd. The contest is a preliminary to the Pedigree® Bark in the Park Dog Festival presented by Food Lion. This is a signature event of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department on Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Rural Hill, 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, NC. Rural Hill has plenty of space and free parking.

The Top Dog and master will be the grand marshals of the Pooch Parade at Bark in the Park and will receive a pet portrait by Tianna Fisher, a year’s supply of dog food, plus the dog will be poster dog for next year’s festival logo. Bark in the Park is “for dogs and the people they own!”

The 2011 Pedigree® Bark in the Park Dog Festival presented by Food Lion drew more than 15,000 people last year, most with dogs. The festival features contests like Best Costume, Best Bark, Largest Dog, Smallest Dog, Best Trick, Disc Throw and Catch, and Disc Long-Shot Catch. Register for contests at the festival. Included this year will be exhibits, dog products, adoptable dogs, prize drawings, musical performances by Gigi Dover and the Big Love, and many great dogs to see and greet! Please bring dogs on leashes.