The Scratching Post is a weekly newsletter from pets columnist Kate Karp, bringing you all the latest news on pet adoptions, animal welfare and ways to get involved.

You don’t have to be a bulldog to win first prize. Photo courtesy of Justin Rudd.

“Hi! I’m Justin Rudd, and this is my bulldog, Rosie!”

Those were the first words I heard about 25 years ago from someone who, even with the Alabama drawl, has long been associated with Long Beach charitable events, beach cleanups, Rosie’s Dog Beach, the Turkey Trot, and community leadership. And animals. Oh, yes, animals.

Justin’s full story would break the word count even further, so you can read about him here. Today, we’re just going to talk about Justin and pets. Justin was surrounded by animals domestic and wild in rural Ozark, Alabama, and has always loved them.

“I’ve always been drawn to animals, and taking care of them,” he said. “I learned that as a kid.”

Justin famously lobbied for Rosie’s Dog Beach, which had its grand opening in 2003, with Rosie herself leading a throng of canines into what wasn’t a pounding surf. He’s produced countless events for animals through his nonprofit Community Action Team events. The Haute Dog Bulldog Beauty Contest, coming up this Sunday, Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon, was created 19 years ago and was also inspired by Rosie.

“My partner at the time had gotten Rosie, and I just grew very attached to her,” Justin said. “I wanted to do things with her instead of just keeping her at the apartment all the time, but there weren’t events happening that I knew of as a new person to Long Beach.”

Rosie passed away in 2010 at 12 years old. Justin and his partner, Ralph Millero, had adopted Riley, the inspiration for Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap, a few years before to be Rosie’s “little brother.” Riley died in 2014; the couple’s present little buddy, POTUS, has so far seen three presidential administrations.

Ralph usually lugs POTUS in a wagon to the pet events, and they’ll likely be present at this one. “Ralph always shows up — he’s super-supportive,” Justin said.

The contest initially included only bulldogs.

“I’m obviously partial to the breed,” Justin said. “I wanted to have a super-adoption fair for cats and dogs, but I needed to have a reason for people to come, so I created the contest. I think when people don’t have bulldogs, they say, ‘God, that’s an ugly dog!’”

The Bulldog Beauty Contest has evolved over the years to a Long Beach-diverse pack. Each year, Justin added a couple of dog-egories. French bulldogs had their own contest the second year, then came Best Chihuahua, and finally, competitions for Best in Show and Best Mutts. This year, there are 12 contests.

“We were at a point where we had 20 different contests,” Justin said. “The day became long, and I needed to compact the time frame of the event. Dogs cannot hang out for three hours, with the risk of overheating. Bulldogs surely can’t [bulldogs and other squashed-faced animals, including Persian cats, have brachycephalic syndrome, which affects breathing.]”

Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital will attend the event as the official veterinary service. Vendors will sell pet-themed items, and the Adoption Fair will again take place. Sponsors include Port of Long Beach and Redbarn Pet Products, which will provide the prizes. The event will take place rain or shine.

“And it has rained on us — a downpour one year!” Justin said.

Registration is $20 online or at the event. If you want to spectate, you can rent a seat for $5. All fees go to the nonprofit Community Action Team, through which Justin Rudd funds the organization’s charitable donations.

“This event allows people to bond with their pet, and with people who are spectators, to enjoy something fun,” Justin said. “It would be a spectacle to see 20 bulldogs, but when there’s 100, that’s even better! If you want a good post for your social media, come on down!”

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Pets to adopt or foster

What better way to honor the inspiration for the Bulldog Beauty Contest than with rescue bulldogs? Yes, you don’t have to go to a breeder to get one — Southern California Bulldog Rescue has a bunch of the little, adorable slobberers who were found somewhere or turned in by their owners for one reason or another.

SoCal Bulldogs will be among the cat and dog rescues at the Bulldog Beauty Contest. You can adopt one there or fill out an application here. Just be sure you can handle bulldogs’ special issues, such as respiratory diseases that can present in brachycephalic animals and diseases associated with their bulging eyes. Plus, puppies have to be birthed by cesarean section, but that’s no worry in this case, because SoCal Bulldog spays or neuters each dog. Here are three jowly hopefuls.


Charlie, 5 years old, was pulled from a shelter, surrendered by an owner who no longer wanted him. He has a lovely temperament and has lived with other dogs — he’s unfamiliar with cats though. He is potty trained, sleeps well in his bed, and likes to go for walks. Charlie walks with a slight limp, so he might do best in a home with as few stairs as possible.


Tres, 3 years old, is an amazing little bully boy who was surrendered by his original owner. He had a broken front leg that we were able to save and give about 60% use for stability. But you wouldn’t even know that Tres has a disability because he roughhouses and gets around just like the others. Tres will need a home with no steps, or few that he doesn’t have to use frequently. He loves to cuddle and is potty trained. Anyone who meets him loves him and would be lucky to add him to their family.


Sally, between 6 and 7 years old, came to rescue in August 2023. She was very sick and was touch-and-go for months, so she had to stay in medical boarding. She has since moved in with a foster and is now healthy and happy now — potty trained, too. Sally is on the smaller side, at around 40 pounds, and is potty trained. She’s the sweetest little lump of sugar — her little bulldog nub is always wiggle-wagging! Sally is mostly blind and seems to just sense light and shadow, so if she lives in a home with other animals, they should be tolerant and kind. She won’t be able to assess their body language and could miss cues or bump into them.

Pet events and announcements

February is Spay and Neuter Awareness Month

Shelters everywhere are in emergency mode, unaltered cats wander the streets and proliferate, and litters of puppies go unclaimed and often wind up in shelters, where their futures are unknown. One month a year, animal organizations like Best Friends remind people of the importance of spay/neuter and bump up resources for the procedure. 

Pet Food Express has launched a campaign called Big Fix Friends, dedicated to supporting spay/neuter initiatives in California. Humans can purchase exclusive, SnugArooz’s limited-edition toys, known as Big Fix Friends, online here and in stores — Long Beach has two locations. Ten spay/neuter clinic programs will receive 50% of the retail price of the toys.

To see a list of local animal rescue groups, click here.