Inside the New Pet Bungalow on the Set of Hallmark’s “Home & Family”

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Inside the New Pet Bungalow on the Set of Hallmark’s “Home & Family”

Hallmark Channel’s daily chat show Home & Family recently celebrated the addition of a whole new wing to the show’s “home,” and it’s a very special place.  Dubbed the Pet Bungalow, the plush environment provides a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for the multitude of up-for-adoption pets the show helps place every day as a part of Hallmark’s Adoption Ever After initiative.  It's a space of which Home & Family's resident pet adoption expert Larissa Wohl (pictured at top) is particularly proud.  "I believe this whole thing was the brainchild of our executive producer Tracey Verna," she explained in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage.  "We weren’t sure if it would be called a sanctuary, a bungalow or a pet palace, but I thought it was a great idea.  I didn’t think it would actually happen and now here we are!  (Crown Media Family Networks president and chief executive officer Bill Abbott was on set while we were talking about the idea, and he simply loved it.  He was like, “Yes, this sounds amazing!"

With so many needy animals coming through the show, Wohl said, having a place that provides safety and comfort is paramount in ensuring they are seen at their best.  "While we try not to break the fourth wall too much on television, what people don’t understand is being here is a first for the animals," she explained.  "They don’t know me and sometimes it's completely dependent on their temperament, how they feel on a particular day, and some of the timid ones are harder than others in terms of getting them to relax and chill out.

"My goal is to acclimatize them a little bit," she continued.  "Just get to know them and for them to get to know me so they feel some familiarity.  That way when it’s camera time they don’t appear to be too nervous.  Having this area, we can do that.  They aren’t in the middle of the show being filmed.  It’s quiet, and they get a chance to just be themselves."

Thanks to the quiet, soothing atmosphere free of the hustle and bustle of the show, the Pet Bungalow is a serene space.  The addition of orthopedic beds provides a comfortable and cozy space for senior pets, and thanks to cat whisperer Jackson Galaxy (who provided his input on the space) the addition of a maze by Catastrophic Creations (above) provides curious felines with an activity space.

"The name of the game is to showcase why a particular animal should be in your home," said Wohl.  "So, we get to see them playing, or relaxing, or even exploring.  It allows the animals to showcase themselves in their best light.  If they want to play and they break something, it’s not a big deal because this is their space.  It’s air-conditioned, and I have to say, it's better than [my space] and I’m about ready to move in."

"On a heartfelt note, while it’s beautiful and glamorous, the reason behind it is the animals," she added.  "It's about their comfort and the hopes of getting them homes."

Wohl told me almost 1100 animals have found forever homes from Home & Family alone and gives special credit to the executives at Hallmark for their effort.  (Wohl is pictured above, center with H&F co-hosts Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison.)  "I thank Bill Abbott and everyone for what they did with this space," she shared.  "It means everything to me.  Constructing this whole thing is a very different process to a makeover thing for a person, and I think everyone involved did a fantastic job making this pet perfect."

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