Many Lowcountry residents spend a lot of time making sure the pets, seniors and children in their lives are well cared for and happy. This month, we celebrate our love for animals, compassionate care of the elderly and the late summer rite of students returning to school.

Look inside on page 42 to see who won our highly anticipated annual Cutest Pets contest — we’re not letting the cat out of the bag here. We've also included a profile of the contest’s local celebrity judges. Did you know that people in the U.S. spent nearly $70 billion on their pets last year, according to the American Pets Product Association? In this issue, we tell you where to take your four-legged companions out to eat at pet-friendly restaurants on Hilton Head Island and the mainland.