The submissions for the short story and poetry rounds of the Petlitzer Prize contest were so terrific, we knew we couldn’t stop there. Our latest challenge to you creative writers out there is to write a persuasive essay on a topic related to pets (or animals in general). Read on for the specific rules for this round and, beyond that, the general rules for all Petlitzer Prize entries. The deadline for submission of your essay is March 15, 2011. Winners will be announced by March 30 and promoted in several ways, as described below. Please entice all your friends who love to passionately, yet logically, express their opinions about animal-related topics to submit their work to us soon!—Sid

Guidelines for Round 3—Pet-related Persuasive Essays:

Get out your soap boxes! For this round of the competition, we want you to take a stand on some pet-related topic and write an essay meant to persuade a general audience to your point of view. Think of these as sort of “Letters to the Editor.” Controversial topics are OK as long as your arguments are sound and based in logic. (No lapsing into profanity and/or name-calling.) Don’t assume everyone automatically accepts your premise. Instead, write as though you’re persuading someone who likely doesn’t agree with you. Supporting your argument with facts when possible can be a plus.

Some hypothetical questions to get you thinking are:

• Do you have a plan to reduce the number of feral cats/stray dogs in your area?

• Do you support rescue over breeding, or vice versa?

Are vets over-vaccinating our pets, or, conversely, are vaccines vital to our pets’     health?

What is your stance on the designer dog phenomenon?

Should you feed your dogs a raw food diet?

Should animal blessings be sanctioned by the Church?

Should there be pet funeral homes, and if so, should they be located within humans’ funeral homes or kept separate?

Should more businesses and public transportation allow pets, as they do in European countries? etc., etc. etc.

You get the idea. (Note: You are NOT limited to one of these topics, although you’re welcome to write about any one of them if you wish.)

Please keep the length within 500 words. Going over will result in your submission being sent back to you for editing.

Tell all your animal-loving friends about this contest. We want to be flooded with wonderful submissions!—Sid

Here are some basic ground rules for Petlitzer Prize entries in any or all categories:

1. You must be the author of the piece. Plagiarism is an absolute no no!

2. Entries should not have been previously published in book form (on your own blog is fine) as of the date you submitted it. Meaning that if you get it snatched up by Random House the week after you send it to me, you’re still qualified for this prestigious contest—and congratulations! :)

3. For Round 3, I must receive your entry by March 15, 2011. A winner will be chosen and posted by no later than March 30. (I and a panel of pet experts, including but not limited to Dr. Robert and Michelle Forto, dog trainers and co-hosts of popular Dog Works Blog Talk Radio show, will be  judging the submissions.)

4. Please be sure to have a second pair of eyes proofread your entries well. Grievous typos/grammar gaffs will most likely disqualify you.

5. You may only enter one piece in any given round, but you may enter a different single piece in every subsequent category throughout the year. New categories will be posted shortly after the after the previous round’s deadline is reached.

6. Winners (First, Second, Third  and/or Honorable Mention, depending on the number and quality of submissions) will receive a certificate of achievement for their efforts and have their work posted on my blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. (As well as on the Dog Doctor’s sites.) If you have a website, please be sure to submit your URL to be directly linked from my blog in case you win.

7. Winners may also have their works (or excerpts from them) read live on Dr. Robert Forto’s very popular Blog Talk Radio show Dog Works. (Air dates will be announced in advance.)

8. No pornography whatsoever will be allowed. Nor will pieces depicting gratuitous violence toward animals (except for the purpose of decrying such acts or as truly salient parts of a story’s plot). I have the final say as to whether entries will be accepted. People of all ages and walks of life may be seeing or hearing these, so the work must be acceptable for a general audience.

9. Send your submission in a Word doc or pasted directly into an email with Petlitzer Prize Entry in the subject line, along with your full name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and a short (sentence or two) bio about yourself if you wish, to me at <goodgriefpetloss@gmail.com>. I will forward only your actual submitted story with your name to my fellow judges. None of your contact information will be shared without your express permission. They’re only so I can notify you of who won the contest and/or to mail you your certificate.

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