A local Howard County pet needs help from the public to win the title of America’s Favorite Pet.
Maple, a 3-year-old African Pygmy hedgehog, is currently in the quarterfinals for the America’s Favorite Pet competition, which is open to species of all kinds.
The winner will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize and will have a two-page article in In-Touch magazine.
This isn’t Maple’s first time competing to steal America’s hearts. Earlier this year, she entered a National Cadbury competition to be featured in a television commercial. The one-pound pet came in 3rd place out of about 20,000 others, says Maple’s owner, Laura Easter.
Easter runs an Instagram account dedicated to Maple, @maplehedgie, where she posts photos and videos of her hedgehog friend wearing costumes, like a mermaid tail or bunny ears; going on adventures to places like the Ocean City boardwalk or the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile; posing in dioramas; or just doing, well, hedgehog things.
Public voting is the only way for pets to advance in the AFP competition. Maple fans can cast a free daily vote once a day or use an unlimited number of “PAWS Votes” starting at $10. Those proceeds support Progressive Animal Welfare Society, a non-profit that rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife, and adopts homeless cats and dogs.
The America’s Favorite Pet competition began in August and “started with around 40,000 pets,” said Easter.
Voting for the quarterfinals round will end Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. The pet with the most votes in each group will advance to the semifinals round Oct. 14-20.
Top pets in each of the semifinals groups will then compete in the finalist round Oct. 21-27.
The top winner of the competition will be announced on the website Oct. 27.