Puppy Bowl a real touchdown for animal shelters

For the millions of people across the country who tune into Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl, Super Bowl Sunday is the cutest day of the year.

Cats and kittens entertained the fans at halftime during last year’s Puppy Bow. (Photo credit: Discovery)

But for animal shelters, the show is more than a fun chance to watch puppies wrestle and play — it’s been the opportunity of a lifetime. Reaching an audience of nearly 9 million TV viewers and another 1.4 million online, the Puppy Bowl provides the kind of exposure rescue organizations dream of.

“I don’t know if there’s any bigger forum for getting something out on adoption,” said Puppy Bowl Executive Producer Melinda Toporoff. “We make sure the message gets out there. We make clear that these dogs need homes and that all animals have come to us during the adoption process.”

Twenty-three rescue organizations took part in this year’s program, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (SPCLA).

“It raises awareness for our shelter and others that take part,” said SPCLA president and CEO Madeline Bernstein. “It shows dogs in a happy, playful, fun way, which makes people think, ‘Gee, I could play with a dog too.”

“You hope it will also stimulate adoptions, and if not, at least a positive attitude toward dogs, rather than they are just hairy and smelly,” Bernstein added.

SPCLA Terrier mix pup Blitz is one of the many rescued pets who will appear on the popular Animal Planet program this Sunday.

Bernstein explains the best thing about the Puppy Bowl is that it lets viewers know there are always wonderful dogs just like those Puppy Bowl competitors available at animal shelters and rescue organizations, inspiring people to adopt rather than shop for their next best friend.

“A lot of people have come in during the last year and said, ‘I want a dog just like Fumble,” Bernstein tells Yahoo News, referring to the SPCALA adoptee who became last year’s Puppy Bowl MVP.

Among the other puppies featured in Super Bowl Sunday’s Puppy Bowl IX are Biscuit and Butterscotch, two Puerto Rican Sato Dogs rescued from Dead Dog Beach, a Puerto Rican beach known for the hundreds of abused and abandoned dogs that live and often die on its shores. Biscuit and Butterscotch are now under the care of The Sato Project, an organization dedicated to changing public perception of and finding homes for the roughly 25,000 homeless dogs in Puerto Rico.

“When I see these two little puppies, if you look at the dynamic, they were set up to fail,” Sato Project founder and president Chrissy Beckles told ABCNews.com. “They were born on a beach, their father got killed, their mother didn’t want to be caught. We managed to get them all and now Biscuit is up for potential MVP.”

The Puppy Bowl is filmed months ahead of time, so most of the puppies are already adopted by the time the program actually airs. Of the 63 puppies highlighted on the show, four are still waiting for their forever homes. Pit Bull Terrier mixes Tyson, Daphne, and Sacha from Silver Lake Wisconsin’s Pitter Patter Animal Rescue and Terrier mix Jenny from the Pitty Love Rescue in Rochester, New York are available for adoption.

You can catch all the adorable action Sunday, February 3 starting at 3 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet. And this year’s show will not limit itself to just cuteness of the canine variety — Puppy Bowl IX will also include kittens, hamsters, and hedgehogs.

Sources: Yahoo News, ABCNews.com

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