Española Humane is expressing heartfelt gratitude to the community for rallying around a “little dog that could,” leading to a victory in a national dirty dog contest.

Giuseppe’s journey to the shelter began as a heartbreaking tale of neglect. Found as a stray, he carried 5 pounds of matted fur that concealed numerous health issues, leaving him unable to walk. However, once groomed, he received the medical care and foster support he desperately needed.

His dramatic transformation not only gave him a new lease on life but also earned him the title of America’s top Shelter Dog Makeover and secured a $10,000 grant for Española Humane from Wahl, a pet grooming supplier, and Greater Good Charities.

“We are so honored that our community rallied around our ‘Little Shelter that Could’ for this little dog that could,” said Bridget Lindquist, the shelter’s executive director. “Our team has shown everyone what the power of transformation can do.”

Each year, Wahl donates pet grooming supplies to shelters nationwide, helping prepare dogs for adoption through their Dirty Dogs Contest. Shelters post photos of amazing transformations and the public votes on the most dramatic makeovers. This year, 10 finalists were selected, and Giuseppe emerged as the top winner.

In addition to Española Humane, Williamson County Animal Center in Franklin, Tenn, received a $3,000 grant for second-place winner Maddie, and Apollo Support and Rescue in Justin, Texas, earned $2,000 for third-place dog Pete.

The victory was incredibly emotional for Mattie Allen, Española Humane’s director of communications and Giuseppe’s foster mom. She played a key role in his recovery and social media promotion. Diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Giuseppe struggled with weight and mobility issues.

“My dogs love to help injured animals recover physically and emotionally,” Allen said. “We spent a lot of time just being near him and not asking anything of him.”

Allen was thrilled to see the community’s support, with daily votes climbing to over 27,000 by the end of the contest, far surpassing the other deserving dogs.

Giuseppe, now named Joey, has found a forever home with Donna Karr, who specializes in caring for senior dogs with medical issues. Joey has since blossomed, running around “like a puppy.”

“Giuseppe is a happy boy who follows me everywhere,” Karr said. “He loves going for walks in the forest with the rest of the pack. He lost the extra weight and has gained a lot of energy for an older dog.”