Meet the Celebrity Judges of the Cutest Rescue Dog Contest – The Talk’s Rescue Pet Parents

Akbar Gbajabiamila, Amanda Kloots, Sheryl Underwood, Jerry OConnell and Natalie Morales are the hosts of the CBS daytime series THE TALK, airing on the CBS television network

Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

The speech is back from its summer break, making it the perfect time to get to know the famous judges for PEOPLE’s World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest presented by the PEDIGREE® Brandwho happen to be three of the hosts of the CBS daytime talk show.

In addition to accommodation The speech together, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Natalie Morales and Jerry O’Connell are all rescue dog owners, making them the perfect celebrity judges for the world’s cutest rescue dog contest.

The contest launched this summer and has received thousands of entries from adorable adopted pooches hoping to be crowned the cutest rescue dog. PEOPLE narrowed down all of these fantastic entries to 10 furry finalists. Animal lovers can now vote for their favorite dog in the Top 10 once a day until September 28 on people.com/rescuedogcontest.

Once the voting is closed, the three dogs with the most votes will move on to the judging round. Akbar Gbajabiamila, Natalie Morales and Jerry O’Connell, along with judges from PEOPLE and the PEDIGREE® brand, will choose a winner from the top three. The 2022 winner of the world’s cutest rescue dog contest will be announced on October 12.

RELATED: Vote For Your Favorite World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest Finalist Now

Akbar Gbajabiamila, Natalie Morales and Jerry O’Connell all have their own adorable rescue dogs who will help them judge their competition. Get to know the hosts and their dogs below before the world’s cutest rescue dog contest champion is chosen.

World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

Courtesy of The Talk

Gbajabiamila, a former NFL player who also hosts NBC’s competition series American ninja warrior and American Ninja Warrior Junior, is a dog father of two puppies. Her dog Yuri (pictured above) comes from Wags and rides, a Los Angeles-based pet adoption center. Gbajabiamila said he felt an instant connection with Yuri upon meeting the dog. Yuri is the latest addition to Gbajabiamila’s family, which includes his wife and four children, and fits in perfectly.

“We were looking to expand our family, and the best way was to adopt a dog in need, so we really helped each other. Yuri’s company really helped the whole family through the pandemic,” Gbajabiamila said about of his rescue dog.

World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

Courtesy of The Talk

Morales has two rescue dogs, Zara and Obi, and said it was love at first sight for her with the two pets.

“I met Zara when she was on Today for a pet travel segment. She was from the North Shore Animal League on Long Island. As soon as we met, Zara looked me straight in the eye and raised her paw to greet me. She didn’t bark or beg, she just looked me in the eye and I knew!” Morales said of meeting Zara.

“I’ve grown up with a dog all my life and knew how important it was to me to have this best friend and constant companion in my life, so we decided to adopt Zara,” Morales added. “She’s my little soul mate.

RELATED: Deaf Dog Finds His Forever Home With Autistic Deaf Teenager: ‘He Has To Be Mine!’

Obi, whom Morales dubbed “Mr. Personality,” joined Zara after Morales moved to California.

“He was on a Puppy Bowl segment for To access, and I fell in love with her little face and freckles. He’s a classic LA pooch. I did his dog DNA, and it was no surprise to learn that he was part Chihuahua (whom we only knew by his piercing bark and very protective demeanor), terrier, poodle, and spaniel, between others,” Morales said of Obi, adding that the dog fits right in with his family.

World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest

Courtesy of The Talk

O’Connell admitted he wasn’t sure about having a pet when his wife, Rebecca Romijn, spotted a dog named Phil while browsing PetFinder.com on a road trip. Either way, the couple ended up stopping by the shelter and adopting Phil that day. Now O’Connell is delighted they made that choice as it didn’t take him long to fall in love with Phil. The dog and The speech the host are now best friends.

To learn more about the judges of PEOPLE’s World’s Cutest Rescue Dog Contest Presented by the PEDIGREE® Brand and vote for your favorite finalist, visit people.com/rescuedogcontest. You can see the celebrities of the contest jury on The speechairs weekdays on CBS.