Columbus Parent Cutest Pets contest

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Just like parents of children, proud pet owners will declare without hesitation that their “baby” is the cutest one out there.

So earlier this year, we challenged readers to send us their favorite photos for a newColumbus Parent Cutest Pets contest.

We took submissions via our Instagram account, @ColumbusParentMag, from May 10 to June 14. Staff members then gathered to ooh and aah over the photos and chose 15 finalists—five each in the categories of Cutest Cat, Cutest Dog and Cutest Costume.

Readers voted on the finalists on our website,, from June 28 to July 19, and the top vote-getter in each category was declared the winner. Their owners each will receive a professional photograph of their pet taken by our photographers and, of course, bragging rights.

Here are the winners:

Cutest Cat


Age: 12

Breed: Domestic shorthair

Owner: Kristine Durban of Hilliard

Durban has had Toby since he was a kitten. She also owns two other cats: Kitt and Toby's sister, Dale. Toby's brother, Sylvester, lives with Durban's fiancé, Bill Walton, on the Hilltop.

Toby, who gets insulin shots twice daily for diabetes, enjoys playing with other cats and people and—as an occasional treat—snacking on bites of an Egg McMuffin without cheese. “Even with his disease, he's very active, playful, intelligent,” Durban said. “I always refer to him as my fun cat.”

Cutest Dog


Age: 6 months

Breed: Welsh corgi

Owners: Katie Forte and Ben Engel of Northeast Columbus

Forte and Engel, who live near New Albany, got Sydney when she was 8 weeks old. She's a typical puppy who enjoys frolicking, chewing on bones (and rocks), playing with her favorite green squeaky ball and meeting new people.

“I feel like Sydney brings a smile to everyone who meets her,” Forte said. “I think she's the cutest pet already in Columbus.”

Cutest Costume


Age: 4

Breed: Bichon frise and poodle mix

Owners: Laurie Arsenault and David Muller of German Village

Charlie regularly charms his 6,200-plus Instagram followers with costumes and travels around the city on @charliethehotdiggitydog.

The mild-mannered pooch, who came to Columbus from an Iowa breeder at 10 weeks old, started wearing boots to protect his feet from salt-covered winter sidewalks. Then came coats and scarves, followed by other outfits. “He never really minded, and he would run away when you tried to take it off of him,” Arsenault said. “He just really enjoys posing for the camera and getting treats.”

Charlie is a certified therapy dog and an ambassador for the movement to allow restaurant owners to permit dogs on patios. Otherwise, Arsenault said, “He's a normal dog.”