WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mozart is trying to win a million dollars for New Orleans recovery efforts. But the charitable effort by the 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel may be derailed by a dog named after the satirical TV anchorman Stephen Colbert.
Mozart's owner says if he wins, all the prize money will go to charities aiding New Orleans.
Both canines are contestants in a dog beauty pageant -- but only one pup can take home the big money. The first round is under way, with a hairy finalist selected each week by the number of fan votes.
Mozart, or MoMo as friends and family know him, came in second last week in the Cutest Dog Competition with 2,780 votes.
This week he is running neck and neck with a new challenger, Stephen Colbert el dos, a Pomeranian Chihuahua mixed-breed puppy from Atlanta, Georgia.
MoMo's owner is crying foul. "It's just coming out of nowhere," Cara McCool said. "It's just unfortunate. MoMo is named after a famous person too, but he's dead."
The Cutest Dog Competition is run by All American Pet Brands. Over 60,000 people have uploaded photos of their adorable dogs to the contest's Web site. The final 12 pooches will get to compete for the grand prize, a cool million in cash.
"It's a fraternity or sorority with people who don't just have pets, these are their family members, their best friends," said All American Pet Brands CEO Barry Schwartz.
"He's my furry child," said McCool, a New Orleans piano teacher who named her dog Mozart after her favorite composer. "Sometimes I pull up chairs for him to sit next to me when I play or teach. He has been known to jump on the bench and actually has put his paws on the keys."
McCool has been active with several nonprofits working in New Orleans. If Mozart wins she said all the money will got to several charities: Redeemer Presbyterian Disaster Relief, Desire Street Ministries, Louisiana Teachers Save Our Students fund, Cavalier Rescue USA, Musical Arts Society of New Orleans, the Louisiana SPCA, and Teach for America.
"I already support them, but I can't afford that much because I'm a piano teacher," she said. If Mozart wins, all that could change.
Colbert el dos' owners did not want to be identified. They told CNN they have only mentioned the contest to a few friends and family members. However, they did post a note about the doggie competition on a Colbert fan site. The owners have not heard from the show but one of the fan sites says Colbert el dos will appear on "The Colbert Report" if he makes the top 12.
Renata Luczak, a spokesperson for Comedy Central, could not confirm or deny the pet's booking, saying, " 'The Colbert Report' refrains from commenting on upcoming guests appearing on the show."
Even without a television appearance, Colbert el dos appears to be benefiting from the famous Colbert name bump.
Colbert has wreaked havoc in other online competitions -- from a Hungarian bridge-naming contest to a NASA competition to name a room in the International Space Station. In both cases Colbert won the popular vote. However, NASA pushed back and instead of naming the room in his honor, the agency sent a treadmill to space with the Colbert honorific.
In both of those contests, the competitions received heavy promotion during the show, with Colbert urging his viewers to participate. However, in this dog photo fight, Colbert is having an impact without any direct participation.
Schwartz said the competition recognizes the outside influence of the Colbert bump. "If there are those Colbert-named dogs that can get those thousands of votes, we don't want to leave anyone out, so we added a new daily contest."
The voting for this week ends at midnight on Saturday. Schwartz said the grand prize winner will be named on Thanksgiving Day.