Valentine's Day marks the start of a sweet new opportunity for shelter pets nationwide. According to a Jan. 28, 2014, press release, the ASPCA® and animal advocate Jill Rappaport have teamed up to develop a television series and prime-time special celebrating shelter pets. "Best in Shelter™" would culminate with a Valentine's Day 2015 special showcasing the heart and soul of dogs and cats in shelters across America.
Beginning Feb. 2014, Ms. Rappaport will visit shelters around the country on a year-long search for a variety of outstanding canine and feline contestants. Chosen animals will then strut their stuff for a panel of judges for a chance to be crowned Best in Shelter – and score a loving home in the process.
The first program is intended to culminate on Valentine's Day 2015.
In the press release, Creator, Executive Producer and Host Jill Rappaport commented on the project: "It has been my dream – ever since I created my beloved 'Bow to Wow' series six years ago on the TODAY Show – to develop a program that celebrates the beauty, inside and out, of shelter animals. The time has come – and long over-due – for shelter pets to shine as the true superstars they are! The win-win here is that hopefully every one of our featured fur angels, whether on the show or in the shelters I will be visiting across the country, will find a loving permanent home, which is what they deserve. The ASPCA is a critical national voice for shelter animals, and I look forward to partnering with them to truly make a difference for animals in need."
The series is described as follows:
Much like other reality show competitions, selected finalists are expected to compete in front of a live studio audience in a prime-time special, Best in Shelter. In addition to Jill Rappaport and special celebrity guests, the judging panel would feature experts, such as a veterinarian and a certified animal trainer, who will select their favorites. Trophies will be awarded in several creative categories, such as "sizzling seniors", and one Best in Shelter superstar.
Each of the animals featured on the program would be available for adoption, giving them an incredible platform in front of a national audience. Regardless of whether they're awarded Best in Shelter, they're sure to win the hearts of millions of viewers and hopefully a one-way ticket to a new home.
According to the press release, the ASPCA estimates that approximately 5 to 7 million animals enter shelters nationwide each year, and approximately 3 to 4 million never make it out alive. ASPCA President & CEO Matthew Bershadker was quoted as saying, "Best in Shelter would not only celebrate how wonderful these animals are, but would bring attention to the fact that many are already waiting in your own community. I've no doubt this program will both change lives and save lives."