"As a huge animal lover, I was immediately drawn to this project because it advocates for the homeless pets at our local shelters," said Katherine Heigl, co-founder of the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation. "It's important to generate awareness and overcome stigmas about these local facilities as well as promote these amazing animals and how they improve people's lives."
The project was created by filmmaker Steven Latham who wants to engage the public in helping to find solutions for the 3-4 million dogs and cats that are euthanized every year in the United States. "Shelter Me" is sponsored by Ellen DeGeneres' pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets.
"Katherine Heigl and Ellen DeGeneres have been so dedicated to helping shelter pets and I am grateful that they are part of 'Shelter Me'," said Latham. "We need to continue to raise awareness, increase shelter adoptions and let people know that shelter pets are the best pets."
Latham’s production company approached Halo to be the sponsor because both the pet food company and co-owner Ellen DeGeneres are passionately dedicated to helping shelter pets. In 2010, Halo donated one million meals to shelter pets in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service Adopt a Shelter program.
“It’s important to raise public awareness and increase shelter adoptions by showing first-hand how these incredible animals positively impact people’s lives,” said Steve Marton, CEO of Halo. “Our involvement in ‘Shelter Me’ is a reflection of Halo’s commitment to support animal shelters across America.”
Latham has three of his own rescue dogs and often cares for foster dogs. An active shelter volunteer and advocate for homeless pets, Latham believes the key to increasing the number of pets adopted from shelters is awareness. “Most people don’t understand that there are exceptional dogs and cats sitting in shelters, just waiting for homes,” he said.
“Shelter Me” is Latham’s way of educating the public and debunking misperceptions that shelter pets are “damaged” in some way. “This is one of the most important projects I’ve done,” he said.
Audiences will travel to a women's prison where inmates train shelter dogs to become service animals. Another story shows how soldiers with PTSD are recovering with the help of shelter dogs. Viewers will also see the journey of two stray dogs, from the day they are picked up on the streets and brought to the shelter until they're adopted.
"Shelter Me" premieres on public television stations in May. Please go to www.ShelterMe.com for local listings.