Of the more than 10,000 dogs whose owners entered them into People magazine's World's Cutest Rescue Dog contest, little Lamb Chop came out on top.
After nearly two weeks of voting, the 12-pound Maltese, adopted by Christin Schubert of Milwaukee in December 2014, was declared the winner of the annual competition, in partnership with Pedigree Petfoods, according to People.
Lamb Chop was born in a puppy mill, along with an estimated 2.4 million other dogs in the U.S., where she lived for six years and probably gave birth to multiple litters, the outlet reported.
″When she was rescued, local vets had to remove all of her teeth because they were rotten,″ Schubert told People. She was also treated for cauliflower ear and had several tumors removed.
"I couldn't bring her home right away, because she had to have all of those surgeries, and Washington County (Humane Society) used a significant portion of their medical fund to take care of her," Schubert continued. "I am really thankful for that. They are a small, little shelter that I think does really great work with animals."
Like many rescue dogs, Lamb Chop had socialization challenges after being adopted. She was scared of people and did not know how to play with other dogs, according to the magazine. But she's since adjusted, thanks to classes for shy dogs and a trainer who helped her learn to trust humans again.
″I can go grocery shopping and come home, and she’s just sitting there happy and waiting, unlike when I first would leave her,″ Schubert said.
Schubert has since become an advocate for pet adoption.
″We always say that in order for puppy mills to close, the public needs to stop funding them through their purchases,″ she explained to People. "Lamb Chop is a super-cute face to an ugly industry."
These days, Lamb Chop carries only a few signs of the neglect and abuse she's faced. Her tongue hangs out, especially when she's tired, because she has no teeth, and she's "still shy," Schubert explained. "We’re working on that, and I think with treats and people’s patience, she will be anybody’s best friend."
"I always tell people that I think she is super brave and resilient, given what she has gone through,″ she added. "She has an amazing joy for life."
The second and third place winners of this year's contest were 6-year-old Lunas, found covered in fleas in Jackson, Mississippi, and Diana, 3, who had previously been abandoned with a broken back in Oklahoma.