Griffin's before-and-after photos show a dramatic transformation. / Photo from Wahl Media Relations

The before-and-after photos don't look like the same dog, which is why the dramatic transformation of Griffin from throwaway stray to cherished pet could win a cash prize for the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton.

Griffin is one of 10 finalists in the eighth annual Dirty Dogs Contest, which will award gifts of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 to the shelters that have provided critical care to the top three vote getters. Votes are being tabulated through Monday at The competition is sponsored by Wahl, maker of pet grooming supplies, and, a charitable organization that sees to the health and well-being of people, pets and the planet.

Griffin's online bio briefly tells of his rescue from a kill shelter, his health and beauty makeover and his eventual adoption into a forever home.

Patricia Bell, a longtime volunteer who serves as adoption coordinator at the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia, remembers retrieving Griffin from the kill shelter and taking him to a nearby veterinary clinic, Dalton Animal Care North, for treatment.

Vote for Griffin

The public may vote for their favorite made-over pooch once a day through Monday, Aug. 19, at A Top 3 finish for Griffin would win the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia in Dalton a cash prize of $5,000, $2,000 or $1,000.

"He was in such bad shape," she says. "He had stuff around his eyes — fur and trash and debris. He was a tiny little thing, but he looked bigger because he had so much matted fur."

The fur on his back legs was so matted that it was causing nerve damage, hindering his mobility and threatening his health, Bell recalls.

"It had caused his muscles to atrophy," she says. "He kind of walked funny. He couldn't move his legs correctly or straighten them out. He was one of the worst ones I've seen as far as being damaged like that."

Tracy Lanning, a receptionist at the veterinary office, says Griffin "got the full workover," including being completely shaved. "He was so matted we had to sedate him to keep from stressing him out," Lanning says.

The matted fur "came off like a rug," Bell remembers.

Griffin also had his ears cleaned, his nails trimmed and a rabies vaccination. He left with antibiotic ointments for further treatment of his eyes.

When his fur grew back, Griffin emerged with a shiny black coat, a far cry from the dirty, dusty furball his rescuers first encountered. His eyes, once hidden behind a lion's mane of matted fur, appear dark and soulful in his "after" picture.

"He looks like he's mostly poodle," Bell says. "After he was shaved and his hair grew back out, he was curly like a poodle."

He was adopted by one of the volunteers at the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia, she says. The young man has since gone away to college, but the staff and volunteers get occasional updates on Griffin's new lease on life.

Steven Yde, division vice president for Wahl, says the annual contest is a way to draw attention to the difference a little extra care can make for shelter animals.

"Millions of dogs enter shelters every year, and the unfortunate reality is that less than half are getting the grooming they so desperately need," he says. "These deserving animals are being perceived as 'damaged goods' just because of their appearance. It's our hope these makeover images and stories will inspire people to either adopt a dog in need or reach out to local shelters to see how they can help."

As of Tuesday, Griffin is fourth in the voting. The public may vote for a favorite dog once every 24 hours.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.