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Mastiff named Martha crowned world's ugliest dog

In a lighthearted contest often won by small dogs, this year's winner is a big surprise.

Martha, a 125-pound Neapolitan mastiff, was crowned World's Ugliest Dog for 2017.

The dog, described as gassy but gentle, spent much of its time on stage plopped on its side. 

The annual event took place Friday night at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.

>> Read more trending news

Handler Shirley Zindler told The Associated Press that she rescued Martha when the dog was almost blind, but her sight has been restored after several surgeries.

Martha beat out 13 other contestants vying for the ugliest dog crown, including Moe, a 16-year-old Brussels Griffon-pug mix, who came in second, and Chase, a 14-year-old Chinese Crested-Harke mix, who came in third.

A blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix named Sweepee Rambo won the 2016 competition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: World's Ugliest Dog Contest 2017

Photos show shocked mother after breaking 50-year family history of baby girls

A Columbus, Georgia, mother’s look of surprise after delivering her second child was caught on camera, and images of her expression are amusing the internet.

Today reported that Dara Crouch, and her husband, Eric, 30, chose to keep the gender of her newborn a secret. Already a mother to 3-year-old daughter Neyland, the labor and delivery nurse didn’t know until April 25 that she broke a 50-year family history of baby girls.

>> Read more trending news

“I just knew I was having a girl,” Crouch, 29, told Today.com.

As it turns out, Crouch delivered a boy.

Her surprised reaction was caught by her friend and photographer Neely Ker-Fox. The images were posted on Ker-Fox’s Facebook page

“All of our reactions were genuine that she thought it was a girl,”  Ker-Fox told ABC News. “We all saw that very vulnerable moment and we started crying when we heard it was a boy.”

“I look kind of crazy in them, but I think they’re great," Crouch told ABC News. “We have something to look back on; had we not had a photographer in the room, we would've never seen that.”

The boy was a long time coming, according to Crouch, but that wasn’t why she was so surprised.

“The last boy that we know was born on my side of the family is 50 years ago, but quite honestly, it has little to do with the shock in the picture. I really just thought it was a girl, I really did. We already had a girl and I guess I kind of saw us as ‘girl parents.’”

Now 7 weeks old, Liam is “doing great,” Crouch says.

“He loves to eat and watch his big sister play … and he loves to smile at his daddy.”

Ker-Fox told CBS News that of the 100-plus births she’s photographed in six years, this one is extra special.

“Never have I had a mom look directly into my camera,” she said. “It was such an unexpected photo to grab for me. Her face was genuine shock, which melted into pure and instantaneous love for her son.”

Crouch told the 

Connecticut educator teaches students life lessons after being diagnosed with ALS

Nearly 11 months after being diagnosed with Asymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Connecticut educator Andrew Niblock is using his diagnosis to teach students about life.

>> Read more trending news

Niblock, the head of the elementary school at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, said he wanted to continue working after being diagnosed with the disease so that he could teach his students a lesson about life and be an example for them.

“I want children to understand curve balls,” the father of two told ABC News. “No matter what is thrown your way […] if a kid powers through or makes the most of something later because of knowing me, that’d be great.”

>> RELATED: Neighborhood kids use lemonade stand to raise a surprising amount of money for disabled veteran

ALS, a rare and incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and causes the brain to be unable to initiate and control muscle movement, according to the ALS Association. As a result, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe, with some patients ending up completely paralyzed in the later stages of the disease.

>> RELATED: Mass. teacher battling ALS fired months before earning pension

Instead of hiding the changes occurring to his speech and mobility, Niblock is working with the school’s headmaster to create age-appropriate videos with the goal of teaching students about ALS and spreading awareness about it.

By being open about his battle with the disease, Niblock said he hopes to convey to the students that hope is resilient.

“Hope can drive you forward,” he said. “And I hope […] that the kids see that, and run with it.”

Oreo to unveil candy canes for Christmas

It is still six months until Christmas, but Oreo cookies could be part of your holiday tree decorations.

>> Read more trending news

The cookie maker is unveiling candy canes for Christmas, Country Living reported.

The Candy Hunting Instagram account revealed that Oreo Cookies & Creme Candy Canes will be available in time for Christmas. However, Nabisco, the parent company for Oreo, has not confirmed the product’s release.

Candy Hunting conceded in its post that “I highly doubt these will taste like Oreos, but hey, why not brand everything with Oreo to boost sales?”

Photographer captures 6 families' fights with childhood cancer in heartbreaking project

The “More Than 4” photo project by Sherina Welch of Houston, Texas-based FreeSpiritFoto aims to educate the public on what cancer really looks like by documenting six families’ fights with childhood cancer, as well as spread awareness about the fact that only 4 percent of funds for cancer research go to children.

>> Learn more here

On Saturday, Welch posted an emotional photo series of Colt Wilson, a child cancer patient who underwent 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 28 days, with his mom and dad after his last chemo treatment.

“The first day we walked onto this floor comes flooding back to my mind, and all my fears of cancer killing my baby are fresh again,” Cortni Wilson, Colt’s mom, told Welch. “Treatment is finally over, but the worry isn’t.”

>> Read more trending news

Wilson explained that it was reassuring for Colt to be on the hospital every week getting checked out, but now that his treatment is over, it would be months before he gets checked out again.

“I knew the chemo could kill him, I knew he could have complications, I knew cancer could completely take over,” she said. “So now that it’s finally here, I feel like I’m gonna lose it. I’m scared beyond my mind, excited and relieved, nervous and overjoyed.”

>> See the photos here

WATCH: Bullied girl asks for help in heartbreaking viral Facebook video

A Bellevue, Washington, fourth-grader says she has been bullied since school started in September. After months of telling teachers, administrators and the district, feeling desperate, she posted a video on Facebook to get help for herself and other students who are bullied.

>> Click here to watch the news report

The video was shared more than 17,500 times and reached more than 670,000 people.

>> See the video here

Nasir Andrews, 9, is finishing fourth grade at Ardmore Elementary School in the Bellevue School District. Andrews, who is black, said she's been called "Nutella" and "servant."

"I told my after-school teacher, and she said it wasn't racist and she made me write the definition of racist," Nasir told KIRO on Wednesday.

Andrews says she was picked on for buying her lunch and laughed at on the school bus. Her parents got her a lunch box and let her bring her lunch some days, and they started driving her to school every day.

She said students in her class would take her snack and eat it or throw it away. At recess, she says classmates ran away from her. She says she’s been pushed, kicked and choked.

The girl and her family moved to Bellevue last summer from Georgia, where her parents said she had no trouble making friends. 

>> Read more trending news

"Everybody in my class does not like me, and I don't have any friends in my class or in the other fourth-grade classes," Nasir said Wednesday.

Chantey and Travis Andrews are upset the school didn't do more to help their daughter. They say they have complained to administrators for months. 

"With so many things happening, our fear is there is a culture that has been established at the school where it is almost OK for the children to exercise different forms of treatment and bullying and harassment," said her mother, Chantey Andrews. "And there's not a conversation being had with them saying, 'No, this is unacceptable.'"

In the video posted to Nasir's mother's Facebook page, the girl holds up cards with words on them to share her story.

"I think that we need to stop bullying and just know that if you're doing it, you're hurting people," Nasir said when asked about her motivation to make the video.

Tick spreading in the US gives people meat allergies 

A bite from the aggressive Lone Star tick could do more than give you an irritable rash — it could potentially induce a dangerous meat allergy.

» RELATED: How to prevent, find and get rid of ticks this summer 

The tick, widely distributed in the southeastern and eastern United States, is spreading to even more areas, including Minnesota, New Hampshire and Long Island, New York, and is making people allergic to just a single bite of meat.

According to Wired.com, something in the tick bite makes people sensitive to the sugar compound alpha-galactose, or alpha-gal, found in meat from mammals.

» RELATED: What is Lyme disease and how to avoid it 

And unlike most allergies, which are dependent on a mix of genetic and environmental factors, alpha-gal allergies seem to affect anyone and everyone, regardless of genetic makeup, Wired reported.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Some bite victims will experience a hive-like rash or a dangerous anaphylactic reaction about four hours after eating meat. 

» RELATED: WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

Such allergies are still incredibly rare and the government hasn’t issued any health warnings yet, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the distribution, range and abundance of the Lone Star tick has increased steadily in the past 20 to 30 years.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals “We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northwards and westward and cause more problems than they’re already causing,” Ronald Staff, allergist and clinical professor of medicine, told Business Insider.

» RELATED: Girl dies from possible tick bite

Saff said he's now seeing patients every week who have been bitten by ticks and developed the meat allergy.

The best thing to do while scientists continue research to track and understand the species is to try to prevent tick bites overall.

» RELATED: Woman loses arms, legs after tick bite 

The CDC recommends avoiding tick habitats, using insect repellents with DEET or permethrin and actively checking for ticks after you’ve been outdoors.

Click here to read more on tick prevention and removal tips.

Florida zoo bans man who photographed child without permission

Florida's Palm Beach Zoo on Tuesday banned a man from its grounds following a complaint that he was photographing another zoo patron’s child without permission.

>> Watch the news report here

West Palm Beach police questioned but neither arrested nor warned the photographer, a 48-year-old Broward County man who told police he had no malicious intent in taking the child’s photo.

“He stated that he was simply capturing video of a joyful moment” between the man and his child, according to a city police incident report. Police noted in their report that the photographer — who The Post is not identifying because he is not facing criminal charges — had no history of either lewd or sexual incidents.

Zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter said managers met Tuesday morning “and after further review of the information we have decided the patron is not allowed to return to the zoo.”

The zoo also planned to meet with area parent groups to discuss the issue, Carter said.

A civil liberties lawyer said Tuesday that the parent may have a right to feel suspicious about a stranger taking photos of his child, but he had no legal complaint against the photographer.

The incident appears to be isolated and likely doesn’t constitute stalking or harassment, said James Green, a West Palm Beach-based lawyer who works with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. It would have to be a provable, repeated behavior to violate the law.

“Stalking requires a willful, malicious and repeated following and harassing or cyberstalking of another person,” he said. “Harass means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes significant emotional distress to that person.”

Cherie Benjoseph, co-founder of the South Florida KidSafe Foundation, said that despite the photographer not being charged with a crime, the man did the right thing in calling the police. She said similar incidents have been reported at public beaches where unsuspecting parents bathe their kids in the public showers and an observant family member notices someone taking pictures or video.

>> Read more trending news

“Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what’s going on in the area where you’re playing with your child,” Benjoseph said. “If you see something, say something. … We as parents and guardians of the children we care for need to be educated to be the first line of defense in our children’s safety.”

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, several prominent cities have begun restricting adult entrance to children’s play areas unless they are accompanied by a child. Hollywood put the policy in place in 2015 and claimed the restriction would “put a little dent into getting rid of the undesirables in the park.”

Green said personal privacy protections are strongest in a person’s home and are lessened in public places such as a zoo.

The incident could theoretically raise privacy issues if video was taken and someone’s voice was captured, Green said, but he cautioned against unreasonable expectations of privacy in open, public places.

“Video recording that includes audio capture could violate the Florida Security of Communications statute if the person whose voice was captured had a reasonable expectation of privacy,” he said. “(But) just because I don’t like it or I feel that my communication should not be recorded does not make it so. My expectation of privacy has to be objectively reasonable.”

Man who dangled baby from window in Facebook photo gets 2 years in prison

A man in Algeria has been sentenced to two years in prison after he dangled a baby out of a window in order to get “likes” on Facebookthe BBC reported.

The unidentified man — who was incorrectly described as the baby’s father in some news reports — sparked panic and outrage on social media when he posted a photo of himself holding the child out of a 15th-floor window on Facebook, captioning it “1,000 likes or I will drop him," according to the BBC and Al Arabiya.

>> See the shocking photo here

Facebook users were quick to alert authorities of the man’s behavior and demanded his arrest for child abuse. The man, who is reportedly a relative of the child, was subsequently arrested and charged with endangering the baby’s safety. 

“The picture was taken in a balcony with protective barriers. These were removed,” the man said, suggesting that the photo being circulated online had been altered by social media users.

>> Read more trending news

Additionally, the child’s father pleaded with the court to forgive the man and stated that he was “just playing a game," the BBC reported. The judge, however, ruled against the man, saying the picture clearly showed the child’s life to be in danger.

Read more here or here.

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