January 20, 2009 08:29 PM

The American Mutt-i-grees Club hopes to rebrand the image of the good old American mutt. To kick off their campaign, they rolled into Manhattan Tuesday with a dozen adorable dogs and puppies, model Beth Stern (née Ostrosky), actress Kathryn Erbe, and a 12-foot-tall mobile mutt statue. Mutt-i-grees, which was started by an offshoot of the North Shore Animal League, hopes to lower the number of dogs euthanized in shelters every year (approx. three million, mostly mutts) by promoting the virtues of mutts with educational programs and commercials.

One of their ads stars actress Kathryn Erbe, showing off her 8-month-old golden retriever mix, Lilah, who was adopted from the North Shore Animal League.”I can’t imagine Lilah without a family or my family without Lilah,” she said.

Though many mixed breed dogs are today considered “designer hybrids” – often ending in -doodle. And many more families with rescue dogs just embrace the old word mutt. President-elect Barack Obama was happy to use the word talking about how his family wants to get a rescue dog: “Obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.”

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