'Peanut' is this year's 'Worlds Ugliest Dog'

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Peanut, a 2-year-old mutt with wild white and brown hair, bulging eyes and protruding teeth, has a sweet, energetic personality.

The dog appeared to be running away with the popular online vote in Sonoma-Marin Fair's Ugly Dog Contest, but that was just for fun. On Saturday night,  a panel of judges at the Petaluma Fairgrounds officially bestowed the title upon him.

Karen Spencer, the fair's marketing director, said 29 entries vied for the top prize of $1,500 and a 4-foot trophy this year.

Peanut was in an animal shelter for nine months before he found a home. His owner, Holly Chandler of Greenville, North Carolina, says he was seriously burned as a puppy, and she wants to use her pet to raise awareness about animal abuse.

"While his face has scared away many, it has melted my heart," his owner said online. "Don't let his teeth scare you! He isn't growling. He is smiling because of his hardships as a puppy."

She plans to use the $1,500 prize to pay for other animals' veterinary bills.

The contest, held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, California, is in its 26 year.

The dogs were scored by a three-judge panel in several categories, including special or unusual attributes, personality and natural ugliness.

Dog owners traveled from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida to compete.

The judges this year were Brian Sobel, a member of the fair board; San Francisco Giants' in-game television reporter Amy Gutierrez; and television and film celebrity Cameron Mathison, of "Good Morning America" and "Dancing With the Stars."

For more information on the contest, visit the Sonoma-Marin Fair website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.