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Doggy dash

Every dog can have his day: Sunday.

The 1992 Pedigree Mutt Derby, the annual dog race for the distinctly non-professional racing dog, will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Derby Lane, 10490 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors compete in one of 13 races, each geared to dog sizes. Staff from the co-sponsoring Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) escort the canine athletes to one end of the track's straightaway, while their owners wait at a finish 100 yards away.

"The owners jump up and down and do whatever they need to do," to coax their pet across that line first, said Marilyn Bialas of the SPCA.

All participants get ribbons. Up to 48 heat races will be run to select one semifinal winner per category: small, medium, large and extra large. Each of those four dogs will receive a trophy and a free four-month supply of Pedigree Dog Food.

Those four winners will then race against each other in one race to win the honor of Grand Champion. The winning dog will win a special trophy, and an additional eight months of free dog food. The Mutt Derby has been run The Mutt Derby has been run in the Tampa Bay area for more than 30 years _ at Derby Lane for nearly 20 years. The event was last held in March of this year at the Tampa Greyhound Track, Tampa, and attracted 134 dogs.

The St. Petersburg Mutt Derby has been held in March at Derby Lane, but beginning this year, moves to October.

The Mutt Derby has attracted as many as 430 dogs and 5,000 spectators .

Dogs can be registered for $10 from 8:30 a.m. to noon the day of the race, or in advance at: AAA Kennels, 10787 Oak St. NE, across from Derby Lane, St. Petersburg, 577-1396; SPCA of St. Petersburg, 9099 130th Ave. N, Largo, 586-3591; Doggy Salon, 3611 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 323-3343; Pasadena Pet Motel, 6735 Gulfport Blvd., Pasadena, 345-2852; Pet Safari, 1749 Main, Dunedin, 734-0345, and 1575 S Highland, Clearwater, 443-0993.

Dog owners should bring their dog and county license.

The SPCA will operate a "dog-sitting service" so that pet owners may watch other aspects of the competition from the stands.

Grandstand admission is $4 for adults, $1 for children under age 12 and free to those under age 3. Gates open at 11 a.m.

Proceeds from the event are split by the SPCA and the Jaycees.