‘World’s Cutest Rescue Dog’ and owner use their newfound fame to give back

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:18 PM EDT
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(WYMT) - Eastern Kentucky’s own, Heaven, was crowned “World’s Cutest Rescue Dog” by People Magazine Wednesday.

“I have always thought that she’s cute and she’s special, but I mean every dog is cute and special in their own way,” Owner Jackie Rakers said. “Just to kind of hear that she was getting recognized was amazing.”

Rakers, from Illinois, said the competition has brought a lot of attention to Heaven, but she wants to use that popularity to spread awareness for rescue dogs.

“I mean, I was not in the position to have one myself for many years. I always tell people, if you can’t adopt, see if you can foster for a few weeks,” she said. “If you can’t foster, see if you can just go to the shelter and volunteer your time.”

Rakers said the process was a great experience, meeting several other pet owners and hearing the stories about their dogs.

“Dogs who had rough lives to start, and they’ve gotten the best families they could have asked for,” she said. “It’s just been so much fun to connect with other people who share a love for rescues and for their dogs.”

Officials with the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter (KRRAS), where Heaven was originally from, agree, saying there is a need for adoption now more than ever.

“Temperament is really what they look for in shelters,” KRRAS Manager Allie Mullins said. “A lot of times the best dogs, like Heaven, are extremely shy in shelters so, people don’t really notice them.”

Mullins said she was surprised when she heard the news of Heaven’s achievement.

“We could tell that she had, had a rough life,” she said. “To hear that she was entered in the contest was amazing. Especially, seeing how her owner had brought her out of her shell.”

Heaven and her owner made a $1,000 donation to K9s for Veterans in Chicago, which trains kill-shelter dogs to be service dogs.

Rakers also said she was going to be sending the year’s worth of free dog food she won to the KRRAS.

“Everything that we get, from dog food to cat food to litter, everything is from donations,” Mullins said. “So, it’ll help tremendously, that’s one less thing we’ll have to worry about.”

Rakers said she looks forward to the opportunities Heaven’s new title will bring.

“We’ll continue to do that and really, just making sure that she still gets to live her best life and enjoy this little bit of fame while she has it,” she said.

Rakers said for those interested, the magazine’s main article on Heaven and her journey comes out Friday.

You can read more about Heaven and the competition here.

Check out Heaven on her Instagram as well here.

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