By Steve Gidlow
Hosted by Home & Family’s resident pet adoption expert Larissa Wohl (with help from Chad Atkins of Paw Works), the special follows a group of 60 dogs and cats as they are transported from rural Central California, often from high-kill shelters, to a safe place where they are prepared for their forever homes. It’s all part of Hallmark’s ongoing Adoption Ever After initiative, designed to empty shelters across the country, which to date has helped find homes for more than 50,000 dogs and cats.
“It’s the first time we’ve done a special like this and I can only hope that people really enjoy it and we can do many more,” Wohl (pictured at top) said in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. “The efforts we highlight don’t only happen in California. They’re happening in every state, and while it’s unfortunate it has to happen at all, there are so many wonderful stories of resilience and hope that emerge.
“The idea behind the special is to show viewers what it takes to run a rescue and get these animals from where they come from, to (places where they are made ready) to be adopted,” she continued. “A lot goes into it. We’ve worked with Paw Works in the past and they are wonderful. They do a weekly two-hour drive to central California, where there is a horrendous overpopulation problem, to pull animals from kill shelters and bring them to their facility in Camarillo. A lot of the animals are great, but others need to be bathed, micro-chipped, spayed and neutered, along with different surgeries. They’ll often pick up animals that are pregnant, too, so all of that backend stuff that the rescuers have to provide to make them amazing animals is highlighted.”
After devoting so much of her life to helping animals, Wohl is well-versed in all aspects of the adoption and rescue process. However, undergoing the actual journey many of the animals undertake on their way to being placed was something new and a very different experience. “I participated in every step,” she said. “After doing this for a while it wasn’t so eye-opening for me. But what I found amazing (this time) was going to see some of these great animals after they been placed in their forever homes. To see where they came from to now, and how happy they were … there are no words.”
According to Wohl, when they watch Tails of Joy one dog in particular will pull on viewers’ heartstrings. “We follow one dog named Ty, who when I took him out of his kennel literally urinated all over me and completely froze,” she shared. “This poor guy was paralyzed with fear. Now, his life and name have changed. Gus (as he’s now known) is the mascot of a winery in Los Olivos, CA, living the life of luxury with this fabulous couple who adore him. It just goes to show that every animal out there has a home somewhere, and sometimes it just takes a little time and patience, and a little rehabilitation, and lots of love.
“Often these poor animals haven’t ever enjoyed a good meal,” she added. “So, this could be their first. The special is really eye-opening for anyone that has a heart for rescue. For those who don’t, it might open their hearts after seeing all the work it takes. It’s truly heartwarming. I guarantee you will laugh, cry and have all the feels. My biggest thing is to educate people about the entire rescue world. Highlighting every moment and milestone along their journey helps. I don’t think people realize, when they pay a pet adoption fee and maybe balk at the amount, what goes into preparing these animals. Our show will give them a different perspective. And even if they’re not ready to adopt, there’s always something they can do, and we also show some of the different avenues available.”
Wohl also told me one of the most heartfelt moments is a big gesture from Hallmark Channel to Paw Works, all to help in their endeavors and lifesaving efforts. “It surprised me,” she recalled. “It really showed how dedicated Hallmark Channel is to helping rescue animals, not only by showcasing the ones we do daily on Home & Family but by paying forward in some way to help save more lives. I don’t want to give it all away, but in my time [with Hallmark], this is one of the biggest deals I’ve been lucky to have been a part of.”
Tails of Joy, hosted by Larissa Wohl, will be telecast Monday, February 17 at 10 p.m. on Hallmark Channel.