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NBC’s Today show has bitten off some controversy with its recent decision to drop correspondent Jill Rappaport’s award-winning “Bow to Wow” segment.
The monthly segment has been a part of the morning show for the past six years, giving dogs from New York’s Animal Care & Control shelters a makeover and airtime — and finding them homes after the attention on national television.
“While AC&C is disappointed about this decision, we are grateful for the six-year relationship with NBC and the monthly segments that have featured abandoned and homeless cats and dogs from AC&C,” the organization says on its website. “Countless animals have found homes through these segments, and Jill Rappaport has been supportive and determined to spotlight these animals before a national audience to give them a chance to find loving homes.”
But other animal advocates are digging their claws in, with some starting online petitions on change.org and moveon.org to have the program reinstated, and asking the public to call the show’s producers to push for Bow to Wow to be brought back.
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"NBC dropped the segment during October — National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! The month when everyone should be promoting the idea of adopting an animal in need, not turning their backs on these animals,” said Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR), in Pennsylvania, in a press release.
The ASPCA sent a letter to NBC on behalf of its members asking for the segment to be brought back, MLAR said.
Above is the most recent segment, which was posted on the show’s website on Sept. 27. “We are still proud to boast about our 100 percent adoption record to date, thanks to you, our wonderful viewers,” Rappaport wrote then.
According to a press release from MLAR, four dogs and one cat who were scheduled to appear on Bow to Wow in October were returned to the AC&C shelter when the segment was canceled.
The Today show has been seen as a friend to animals. Two years ago, for example, news anchor Natalie Morales made headlines when she adopted Zara, a rescue dog whom she met and fell in love with during a pet adoption segment on the show. Last year, Morales costarred with Zara in a PSA on animal adoption, and she even inspired co-anchor Al Roker to adopt a dog.
Rappaport was an entertainment reporter on Today for 17 years before her own dog’s battle with bone cancer shifted her focus to animals. She’s spent the last five years covering animal welfare for the show and has won numerous awards for her work.
She’s been honored twice by the Humane Society of the United States with its Genesis Award, and was nominated for it again this year for her Nightly News piece, "Hurricane Sandy: Protecting Our Pets." Rappaport, who has also received recognition from the ASPCA, was the first recipient of the HSUS’ “Voice for the Animals Award” for her work both on and off-screen. It was presented to her by anchor Matt Lauer.
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