Tiny Tiger Unseats Defending Champ, Reclaims America's Fastest Chihuahua Title

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Returning 2006 Champion outruns 14 speedy contenders for first place at PETCO Unleashed Finals.

Fifteen pint-sized champs raced their little hearts out in front of thousands of cheering baseball fans at PETCO Park in San Diego during the fourth annual PETCO Unleashed National Chihuahua Race finals, Sunday, Aug. 31.

The PETCO Unleashed races are about much more than which pooch takes home the title - they're about bringing people and pets together for fun, human-animal bonding and creating an opportunity for animal lovers to learn more about adoptable animals across the country.

Proving he is still small and mighty at the same time, Tiger of Bakersfield, Calif., reclaimed the title of America's fastest Chihuahua Sunday, coming in first over 14 other tiny racers at the fourth annual PETCO Unleashed National Chihuahua Race finals.

The 4-year-old pooch, PETCO Unleashed National Champion 2006, passed up the entire bunch of the nation's fastest Chihuahuas - including the popular 2007 winner, Maddy of New York City - covering the 35-foot-long (1/18th furlong) track in just 1.9 seconds. All 15 finalists raced their little hearts out in front of thousands of cheering baseball fans at PETCO Park in San Diego between innings of the San Diego Padres-Colorado Rockies game.

"It's absolutely wonderful to have him win again - I feel like we have redeemed ourselves after losing last year," said proud pet parent Cathy Smith.

Smith credited for the win her somewhat unorthodox way to coax Tiger - a PETCO Unleashed race veteran and an avid competitor in a dog sport called flyball - toward the finish line this year.

"I started to call him 'kitty, kitty' when we would practice," she said. "It can get pretty confusing for them during the race and there sure was nobody else calling their dog this way at the finish line today."

PETCO's fourth annual Unleashed races showcased 15 regional finalists, including a mix of veteran and rookie racers from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Orange County (Anaheim, Calif.), Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Following the national champ in second place was Piccolo, owned by Minut Sanden from The Woodlands, Texas, while Pancho Villa, owned by Samantha Patrick from Lopez Island, Wash., took third. Delighting Rockies fans gathered at PETCO Park for the Sunday game, Mia - a tiny racer from Elizabeth, Colo. - placed fourth.

Racers attended the event courtesy of American Airlines, Omni San Diego Hotel and San Diego Convention Center and Visitor's Bureau.

Tiger is taking home bragging rights, another trophy, a one-year supply of Royal Canin Chihuahua dog food and a $300 PETCO Gift Card.

PETCO and race presenting sponsor Royal Canin host the annual event to celebrate one of America's favorite breeds of dog, and to encourage all animal enthusiasts to consider adoption as a first option when adding a pet to their family.

"Chihuahuas may be the world's smallest breed of dog, but they have tons of personality and are loving and loyal to their owners, making them wonderful companion animals," said Greg Seremetis, director of marketing for PETCO. "The PETCO Unleashed races are about much more than which pooch takes home the title - they're about bringing people and pets together for fun, human-animal bonding and creating an opportunity for animal lovers to learn more about adoptable animals across the country."

Video footage of the national finals and pint-sized profiles of all regional champions will soon be available at http://www.petco.com/petcounleashed.

About PETCO:
PETCO is a privately held specialty retailer that provides products, services and advice that make it easier for our customers to be great pet parents. We operate more than 900 stores in 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a leading pet products and information destination at http://www.PETCO.com. Our nonprofit organization, The PETCO Foundation, has raised more than $44 million since its inception in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the foundation, we work with and support more than 5,000 local animal welfare groups across the country to help find homes for nearly 300,000 adoptable animals every year.

Media Contact:     
Lisa Epstein
PETCO        
(858) 453-7845 ext. 2558 (direct)
(858) 997-4540 (cell)    
lisae @ petco.com

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Lisa Epstein
PETCO
858-997-4540
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Lisa Epstein

858-453-7845 +2558