PBS' New Series, "Shelter Me," Spotlights Why Shelter Pets Are Truly Special

Andrew, Iraq War Veteran, with his shelter dog, Teka.
An Iraq War veteran and his shelter dog, Teka, are featured in PBS' new series, Shelter Me.

Film director and producer Steven Latham has never met an animal he didn’t like — especially shelter pets.

As the proud owner of two shelter pups named Reba and Molly, Latham made it a point to volunteer with rescue groups, but he had a nagging sense that there had to be more he could do.

“I'd go to bed at night and think of these animals behind cages who just want to snuggle on your couch," he says. "It bothered me that this problem was persisting.”

When Latham realized that there were no films out there that focused on just how incredible shelter pets are, he set out to make one. His new series, Shelter Me, airs on PBS stations across the country this month.

And Latham has some big-name animal lovers attached to his pet project: The one-hour premiere is hosted by Katherine Heigl and sponsored by Halo, Purely for Pets, a company that's co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres. “For Katherine Heigl to be attracted to a project, it has to have authenticity,” says Latham. “It’s not for ratings. It’s all about shelter pets.”

Victims of Circumstance Who Need a Voice

“If you don’t know anything about shelter pets or if you’ve had a negative opinion for whatever reason, I wanted to just show the truth,” says Latham, who's hoping to dispel the myth that shelter animals are not well-behaved or problem pets.

The first episode focuses on two stray dogs who are found by an animal control officer. When the duo arrives at a shelter, they're evaluated for any aggressive tendencies and ultimately deemed perfectly adoptable, loving pups. Despite some minor health concerns, both dogs blossom with their new owners, who see right through the dogs' initial shelter shyness. “These animals are victims of circumstance," says Latham. "They didn’t do anything wrong.”

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