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Mt. Pleasant golden retriever to appear on area billboards

When Kaylie Springer used her new camera to snap a photo of her dog, she had no idea that photo would soon be seen by thousands of people.

Her family's 20-month-old golden retriever, Jackson, recently won the Facebook-based Molyneaux Tile Carpet and Wood 2012 Pet Contest. Jackson, a pet therapy animal at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, will soon be featured on Molyneaux billboards all over the Pittsburgh area.

"Jackson had the most votes of all of the pets entered in the contest on Facebook. I loved the photo they entered. We are going to try to duplicate it with our photographer," said Patrick Molyneaux, co-owner of the company. "I was so excited to hear that he was a pet therapy dog. It's a real pleasure to know the dog is also helping kids who are sick."

Springer, 20, of Mt. Pleasant Township had just gotten a new camera for her trip to Italy, where she is studying abroad. While playing around with the camera, she took a photo of Jackson lying on the floor. Shortly afterward, she saw the Molyneaux contest advertised on TV and entered the photo along with the slogan "Molyneaux's there even on the 'ruff' days!"

Jackson was one of 600 entries in the contest, which is a fundraiser for Animal Friends Pet Adoption and Resource Center in Pittsburgh. The Springer family, including dad Charlie and mother Dr. Lynn Springer, a veterinarian at Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic, began contacting all of their friends, asking them to vote for Jackson.

Their efforts paid off. After the first round of voting, Jackson was in the top 10. The slate was wiped clean and voting began again. During that round, Jackson received 1,842 votes.

"Thankfully I have a great, supportive group of friends that helped me publicize Jackson's entry in the contest," Kaylie Springer said. "In addition to asking my friends and family from Pennsylvania to 'like' his photo, I also got a ton of help from the new friends I'm meeting in Florence, Italy. My roommates and other people in my program come from all corners of the United States, and everyone was enthusiastic and interested in helping campaign for Jackson. Most of these people have never met Jackson, so I was thankful they took my word on how great of a dog he is."

On Valentine's Day, the company proclaimed Jackson the winner.

"I thought it was so neat for him to win this contest, because all his buddies from Children's Hospital will get to see him up there on a billboard," Charlie Springer said.

Lynn Springer, who volunteers with Jackson at Children's Hospital, hopes Jackson's win will bring exposure to the pet therapy program.

"There are a lot of people who do not know about the program, and I thought if he would win it would give me a voice to reach out to other people who might have a dog that would want to become a therapy dog. It's also a great fundraiser for the animal shelter, too," Lynn Springer said.

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