By Kevin Spradlin
Lou Ann Gibson shouldn’t be surprised if, as the 2014 election cycle heats up, she receives a phone call from a local candidate or two. After all, the Rockingham resident has proven adept at getting out the vote.
Gibson used social media to secure votes from friends and family and her hard work paid off, earning her 8-year-old Beagle mix, Jasper, top honors in The Richmond County Daily Journal’s Cutest Pet Contest. The contest was sponsored by Richmond County government and the Richmond County Animal Shelter.
“They were very diligent about (voting every day),” Gibson said. “If they weren’t, we reminded them.”
Rebecca Davis, shelter director, and Judy Cagle, business development manager at The Daily Journal, recognized Gibson and Jasper Thursday morning in downtown Rockingham for their win.
“It goes straight to him,” Gibson said of the $100 prize.
Gibson uploaded Jasper’s photo on the first day of the competition. It was the 12th official submission among 54 eligible entrants. Combined, those submissions garnered 7,198 votes within a two-week voting period that ended Feb. 28 — Jasper’s photo collected 3,159 votes, or 43 percent of the total. The runner-up photo of Derby, a 10-year-old Yorkie, earned 2,282 votes. The third-place dog was Tytan, a 2-year-old Boxer. Tytan garnered 422 votes.
The contest attracted 369 registered users, including 261 (70.7 percent) women. The average age of registered users was 44. While the overwhelming majority of registered users came from the Sandhills region, voters hailed from as far away as California.
Gibson said it was the first time she’s entered such a contest, as her focus always has been the positive impact Jasper’s presence has had on her family.
“We say he was God’s blessing to us,” said Gibson, who added she’s had Jasper “since he was just a few weeks old.”
Gibson said at a young age, the puppy wandered up to her home.
“We couldn’t find who he belonged to,” she said. “We took him in and he took our hearts.”
Gibson said she didn’t know about the $100 prize when she submitted Jasper’s photo but that it’s a nice perk just the same. The prize money, she assured everyone, “goes straight to him.”
Davis said there was little doubt this first contest “was an absolute success.”
“I look forward to next year’s,” Davis said.
Cagle said the contest was a natural event for the shelter to sponsor as it helped to raise awareness about the shelter’s efforts to save animals.
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The Richmond County Animal Shelter announced Thursday that, beginning March 15, the facility will offer new hours in hopes of better meeting the needs of the public.
Rebecca Davis, shelter director, said the shelter will now be closed each Sunday and Monday and open each Wednesday. The change allows the shelter to be open on a day that, though closed, staff ushered animals in out and out of the building due to its work with the Spay/Neuter Veterinary Clinic of The Sandhills in Vass.
Beginning March 15, the shelter’s new operating hours are: noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The shelter will be closed to the public each Sunday and Monday.