ABC’s “The American Rescue Dog Show” Aims to Encourage Pet Adoption

The Westminster Dog Show spotlights the best and brightest of the upper echelon of dogs, but how many people actually have a show dog at home? What about all the rescue dogs – when can they shine?

Fear not, “The American Rescue Dog Show” is back to showcase our furry friends of all bloodlines.

Michael Levitt Productions – run by a resident of Palm Springs Michael Levitt – brings the TV special “The American Rescue Dog Show” on ABC Wednesday. The special, which first aired in 2018, is a riff on “The Westminster Dog Show,” but all of the competing dogs are rescues.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 3.1 million dogs enter shelters each year. Of these, more than 390,000 are euthanized. While this number is devastating, it is down from over 2.6 million in 2011, so progress is being made. This decline is partly explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted and an increase in the number of strays successfully returned to their owners.

Palm Springs resident Michael Levitt, executive producer of the television program, poses with one of the puppies featured on "The American Rescue Dog Show."

The good news, however, is that over 2 million dogs find their forever homes each year.

“The American Rescue Dog Show” is a joyful two-hour celebration of these four-legged friends. Rescue puppies will compete for such honors as “Best in Belly Rubs”, “Best in Snoring”, and “Best in Underbite”, to name a few. The winners of each category will then compete to be crowned “Best in Rescue” of 2022.

A donation of $10,000 to a local animal welfare organization will be made in honor of the winning dog in each category, and each category winner will have the chance to be named “Best In Rescue” and win an additional donation of $100,000. Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore host the special with ESPN’s Monica McNutt serving as a secondary correspondent. Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), Leslie Jordan (“Will & Grace”) and Paula Abdul (no explanation needed) are this year’s celebrity judges.

Levitt, an Emmy nominee who lives in the Coachella Valley and specializes in unscripted and live content shows, created the show with fellow producers Jill Goularte and Jennifer Schulz.

This is due to a tragic event in Levitt’s life.

A scene from "The American Rescue Dog Show" features celebrity judges Yvette Nichole Brown, Leslie Jordan and Paula Abdul.

“In 2011, when my sister was dying of cancer, I knew I needed a dog in my life,” Levitt told The Desert Sun. “My partner Marc and I rescued a pit bull named Trooper. He rocked our world and I learned firsthand that adage of ‘Who saved who?'”

Trooper came into Levitt’s life exactly when he needed him. The dog helped Levitt through his grieving process, and because the experience of his adoption was so impactful, Levitt decided to take a year-long hiatus from his other television work to focus on lifesaving projects. dogs.

“I started creating rescue-themed programming that could have an impact on a national level,” Levitt said. “To date, I have produced six rescue-themed prime-time specials. … The exposure we get from spotlighting rescue dogs on ABC and Hulu is tremendous and truly a dream come true. for me.”

Along with Trooper, Levitt and his partner adopted two other rescue dogs, Nelson and Archie. All three are senior pit bulls, a breed that has a bad reputation born of people who breed them to be aggressive fighting dogs.

“They’re smart, sweet, funny and wonderful ambassadors for the breed. I’m so proud to be their father,” he said.

Michael Levitt, right, poses with his husband, Marc, and their three rescue dogs.

Like Westminster, this program’s rescue dogs show off their stuff in a swanky arena, surrounded by celebrity judges all dressed up for the occasion. The difference is that on “The American Rescue Dog Show” they aren’t judged on their bloodlines or conformation, they’re celebrated for their “perfect imperfections,” Levitt said.

In addition to the aforementioned awards, these dogs are vying for titles in much more relevant categories such as “Best in Snoring”, “Best in Underbite”, “Best in Talking”, and “Best in Couch Potato”.

Levitt’s hope is that seeing these dogs on their screens will encourage viewers to consider saving their own dog.

“The cuteness overload of this show is off the charts,” he said. “From puppies to seniors, dogs with special needs, purebreds, pooches and pit bulls… what they all have in common is that they are affectionate, loving and so eager to please.”

A scene from "The American Rescue Dog Show" features various breeds of canine competitors.

Levitt urges people to adopt from shelters, especially because most dogs up for adoption don’t have issues, “people have let them down.”

“These dogs deserve a second chance,” he said. “And when people save, it makes the experience of being a dog parent all the more rewarding because those dogs know you saved their life and they let you know every day.”

Beyond sharing the beauty of pet adoption, Levitt hopes the show will remind people how important it is to spay and neuter their dogs and cats.

“Shelters are overflowing because people are irresponsible and not fixing their animals,” he said. “There are so many misconceptions about neutering. Ultimately responsible people fix their animals because they understand there is an overpopulation of animals with no place to go.”

A scene from "The American Rescue Dog Show" stars Natalia Glady, Dr. Callie Harris and her furry friend Wilson.

Whatever you choose to do to improve a lifeguard’s life, keep in mind that local shelters always need support. Whether you want to walk, feed or even read to animals, Levitt noted that there are various volunteer opportunities in the Coachella Valley.

And if you don’t have time to volunteer, Levitt added that people can always drop off newspapers, blankets and other supplies at shelters, or simply share their posts on social media.

“All it takes is a share…one of your followers just might be that person who ends up adopting this dog. That’s pretty powerful!”

“The American Rescue Dog Show” airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. PST on ABC and will also be available to stream on Hulu.

"The American Rescue Dog Show" famed judge Paula Abdul poses with a four-legged friend.

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If “The American Rescue Dog Show” inspires you, here are some Coachella Valley hideaways:

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