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Charlotte, NC – Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department has concluded that the results of the Top Dog Photo Contest were unfairly skewed by use of automated voting programs by people or dogs who cast thousands of ballots.

Because the voting results appear to no longer reflect the wishes of “dogs and the people they own,” the Bark in the Park Committee decided to determine the winner by a drawing. The drawing will be held in the Alan Newcomb Memorial Park Shell, often called the “band shell” in Freedom Park (beside the lake) at 11am on Monday, April 19. The drawing will be open to the public, to dogs, and to media coverage. Freedom Park is at 1900 East Blvd. Dogs who attend are asked to please bring owners on a leash.

The decision to hold the drawing was made after a seemingly incredible 20,108 votes were tallied last Tuesday, alone. Votes came in faster than the County’s online system could count! The pace caused the system to crash seven times this week, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. At first Park and Recreation staff wanted to believe they had a really successful contest, but on Wednesday the crashes threatened to spread to other parts of the County’s website, and voting had to be suspended (to the regret of thousands of dogs who were excitedly following the results).

Investigators concluded that at least one person or dog, probably more, used unauthorized and automated voting programs that found a way around the online system’s safeguards against casting more than one vote from any one computer. Voting patterns indicate the results for all contestants were inflated to various degrees. Mischief-makers may be responsible. Investigators could not determine who caused the problems or which dog should legitimately be leading the contest.

Park and Recreation is sad it had to make this change of plans in what is otherwise a happy celebration of dogs. We trust the public drawing will avoid appeals to the Supreme Dog Court.

The Top Dog Photo Contest is a preliminary event to the Pedigree® Bark in the Park Dog Festival presented by Food Lion on Saturday, April 24 at Metrolina Expo, 7100 Statesville Road.

Dog and owners will be pleased to know that Bark in the Park will still go on as planned! Now in its sixth year, it is Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s premier dog festival, a signature event of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department. Admission and parking are FREE.