As Hallmark Channel’s resident on-air pet adoption expert Larissa Wohl has every reason to be proud. Since joining the network’s successful lifestyle show Home & Family as a producer working behind the scenes, and then moving in front of the camera, her daily efforts have shed light on the plight of shelter pets and helped over 650 needy furbabies find forever homes. It’s not the career trajectory the journalist major saw herself taking, but it's one she wouldn't change. "Anyone who's spoken to me for more than five minutes knows what an animal lover I am," Wohl explained to MediaVillage during a recent interview. "So, when Hallmark decided to amp up their pet adoption initiative, I sat with them and said, ‘Let me help in whatever way that means, either behind or in front of the camera, as this is my world.’ It all fell into place and became a wonderful marriage of my journalist skills, on-camera experience and my passion and love of animals.”
Wohl is thrilled that on October 6, Hallmark’s Adoption Ever After initiative will be working alongside the Bissell Pet Foundation as the latter company holds its annual one-day national Empty the Shelters event, at which Bissell covers the cost of adoption fees. "It's a remarkable cause," Wohl noted. "These events make a big dent because sometimes people don't have the adoption fees, often upwards of $100, to take in a dog or cat. It helps financially while bringing so much publicity to the cause. I believe Bissell’s last effort placed over 3,000 rescue pets, all with high retention rates.”
It’s a cause Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks also holds dear. “Adoption Ever After is changing the culture of how pets come into our lives,” Abbott told MediaVillage. “By partnering with adoption advocates like Cathy Bissell, and the Bissell Pet Foundation, we are expanding our national reach and network to reduce the numbers of animals in shelters and to make an incalculable difference in the lives of homeless pets everywhere."
Indeed, Home & Family and Wohl have brought hundreds of needy animals into viewers’ living rooms through their daily efforts. Wohl constantly receives an outpouring of e-mails and social media messages from viewers, some unable to adopt, who have walked into a shelter or started volunteering at shelters. “We just did a Happy Tales follow-up story about a family that wanted to adopt a dog we featured,” she shared. “The dog had already found a home, but they were inspired to keep looking and ended up adopting the perfect dog for them. The ripple effect is something I often forget, so being reminded of that is very special."
Nothing gives Wohl greater joy than seeing empty shelter cages; however, she wants would-be adopters to take a few things into consideration. "Know your breed,” she said. “Dogs need space and exercise. Assess your living situation and who comes in and out of it. Some breeds aren't social. Consider how busy you are. Maybe an older dog that just wants to curl up and sleep all day would suit you. Have a financial plan; things can happen. Also, remember walking into a shelter, what you see may not necessarily be what you get. They're not the happiest places, so remind yourself that environment changes animals. They go through stress and despair that can often change their personality. It's scary, so let them blossom and consider your energy level. If you like to chill at home, you need a pet that can do that with you and match you."
Wohl is also a huge proponent of senior rescues, “usually the forgotten ones,” and said it takes a special person to take one in. “They may need a little more effort to train but it can be done,” she explained. “It’s so rewarding. The same can be said of handicapped pets. They adapt better than us and can teach us a lot about life. Fostering is also a way to help and can be so rewarding."
She will be at the Berkeley Humane Society in San Francisco with Cathy on October 6, Wohl shared in closing. “We'll be talking to everyone we can and featuring it on Home & Family," she said. "Hallmark’s Adoption Ever After and Bissell’s Empty the Shelters are such proponents of each other's efforts it makes sense we work together. It's a perfect marriage and the first year we’ve done this. I hope it grows.”
Home & Family is telecast Monday-Friday at 10 a.m. on Hallmark Channel.
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