Hallmark Channel is delivering a little programming joy with the premiere of Tails of Joy 2. Hosted by Home & Family's resident pet adoption expert Larissa Wohl (pictured at top), the special follows the extraordinary efforts of rescue groups in multiple states to clear the St. Landry's Animal Shelter in New Orleans of its 200 dogs. Like its predecessor, Tails of Joy, the special explores the steps taken in placing these animals in loving forever homes, while highlighting the tribulations associated with preparing an animal to be adopted.
"Tales of Joy was a wonderful experience," said Wohl when MediaVillage spoke with her exclusively. "[That] followed a central California based transport company in their efforts to rescue. Following that, we got the green light to do an even bigger special, which required us to go to Louisiana. We went there last January and filmed teams of rescuers from California, Florida, and Michigan who came together to save hundreds of dogs. St. Landry's was brought to the attention of Hallmark by the Bissell Pet Foundation and Cathy Bissell, who was very close with the woman running the shelter at the time.
"They get thousands of dogs per year," she continued. "When you think about it, when 18 dogs come into your shelter and zero are leaving, soon there's just no room. Some days the intake could be up to 40. The shelter is in the middle of nowhere with no foot traffic and no adopters or happy families looking for their new best friend. It's situated in one of the poorest parishes in Louisiana, so you can only imagine what running a facility like that is like. The only way to ensure a life for these dogs was to transport them to other states where the need for these amazing dogs is high. So, Cathy's team, along with a Florida based rescue, and Paw Works here in Los Angeles, flew there to clear the shelter - - we follow those amazing stories."
While Tails of Joy 2 was filmed some time ago, completing it during a pandemic was a challenge. "Unfortunately, because of COVID, I couldn't fly to Michigan to do any of the follow-ups," she explained. "COVID put a big wrench in everything. But our wonderful producers at Pleasant Street Entertainment were able to safely get to Michigan and meet many of the families who adopted these babies. Saying you'll smile from ear to ear at these stories is an understatement!
"Most of these babies were at the end of the road, and when I say babies, some of these dogs were pregnant at the time. Along with senior dogs, they had nowhere to go, and no eyes were ever going to see them. Seeing them thrive is wonderful."
"I have to admit, watching it made me cry," she added. "And not just for the animals. I so miss being able to do what I do. COVID has been especially hard on everyone, and we've all struggled, but on a personal note, part of my identity is being a part of helping these dogs. Not being able to, brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I've been doing what I can, but it's limited as you can't be around people and you can't go to a shelter. My hope is everyone gets as much happiness from watching this special as I did. Like the first Tales of Joy, it shows all the work, from the rescue side that goes into rescuing up to 30 animals. There's a lot of time, money, effort, and love going into each one to get them ready to be adopted."
One thing Wohl was delighted to highlight in Tails of Joy 2 was the vet care these animals received. "Many of these dogs came from the streets," she shared. "Some could be 10 years old and had never seen a vet. Unfortunately, most of them tested positive for heartworm, which is easily preventable. We also highlight the added pressure, stress, and red tape associated with transporting a dog to another state that tested heartworm positive. Showing how we treated them and how they found forever homes was wonderful. Then you see them living these wonderful lives, in amazing homes, with wonderful people who sacrificed so much to save one of these little guys or gals."
As Wohl eagerly anticipates the return of Home & Family. "We're figuring things out as far as how it's all going to work but counting the days and jumping for joy that we are returning at some point." She's managed to find a silver lining amidst the pandemic. "One of my biggest concerns when COVID hit was that everybody would adopt and there would be a high rate of returns as life got back to normal. I'm happy to say that hasn't happened.
"If people are returning to work, they're doing it differently" she added in closing. "I'm thrilled that it seems people are making it work. It makes me super-happy that people fostered during this time and we do feature one couple in the special who adopted during quarantine because they were home a lot and fell in love with their foster. So there's been some upside."
Tails of Joy 2 is telecast Monday, August 31, 11 a.m. on Hallmark Channel.
Photos courtesy of Crown Media.
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