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And Top Dog for 2015 is …..

Last year it was Lauren Simmons’ Boston terrier, Peighton, that through Lauren’s inventive essay was named Lawrence County’s Top Dog.

Who will take the prize for 2015?

That will be decided in the next few weeks as county auditor Jason Stephens and his staff go through this year’s stack of essays from the county’s fourth- and fifth-graders on why their dog should get Dog License No 1 because he or she is the Top Dog.

“We went to fourth- and fifth-graders because that is a good age for creativity,” Stephens said. “And what fourth- and fifth-grader doesn’t love his dog. Nobody loves his dog more than a fourth and fifth-grader.”

So far Stephens has collected 20 essays and expects to have a total of 50 before the judging starts.

The winner gets a free dog license marked No. 1, whose fee is picked up by the auditor.

The purpose of the contest is to encourage dog owners to purchase the mandatory dog tags. Fees from the tags go to support the shelter that in recent months has worked with rescue groups to find homes for unwanted dogs instead of euthanasia.

Dog tags go on sale Dec. 1 through the end of January at the auditor’s office for $12 and at Tipton’s on State Route 93, Moore’s Hardware in Proctorville, Dickess Market on State Route 141 at Aid and Chesapeake Veterinary Clinic. Tags at those locations cost $12.50. Tags may also be purchased online at www.lawrencecountyauditor.org for $14.

Last year Lauren was surprised by Stephens and his staff with the award at her school as she and her classmates were practicing for a Christmas program.

“We will announce the winner around the first week of December,” Stephens said. “If we can announce it as a surprise that would be the best. We want to recognize the kids who excel.”