Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on National Geographic Channel

If there is any reason to get cable, this is it. Beginning January 4, the National Geographic Channel will air the first episode of a weekly TV series based on Kanab, Utah's Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Titled “Dogtown,” the show “takes viewers on a journey inside the sanctuary's bustling grounds to meet the dogs and the skilled professional team dedicated to ensuring that even the toughest cases survive. This expert team of caregivers has a single mission – to transform hopeless dogs into loving pets.”

CityDog received the first two episodes on DVD a couple weeks ago. A big fan of Best Friends, I took it home, popped it into the DVD player and an emotional (and Kleenex-filled) two hours later, I am even more in awe of the trainers, handlers and medical personnel at Best Friends. Viewers will truly get to know the dedicated Dogtown staff and witness the miracles they perform every day.

National Geographic has produced three episodes, which are listed below with a synopsis of each and their scheduled airtime. If the series proves successful, the production crew will return to Best Friends to begin work on subsequent episodes. So, encourage your friends, family members and co-workers to watch the show!

DOGTOWN: Crisis Dogs, airs Friday, January 4, at 9 pm ET/PT
A puppy mill – a facility that mass-breeds dogs – is raided by Nebraska state authorities. Over 170 dogs are found in terrible condition. Dogtown arranges an emergency flight for trainer Sherry Woodard to bring back some of the most traumatized dogs. Among them is a terrier mix she names Animal, who’s been driven to the brink of madness. Meanwhile, Dogtown’s head veterinarian, Dr. Mike Dix, faces a baffling medical mystery: a gentle male dog named Porto suffering from an undiagnosed illness. If Porto’s ever going to find a home, his condition has to be diagnosed and treated. Two sibling hounds – Remington and Ruger – have been rescued from a polygamist sect in which unwanted dogs are often shot. They’re safe in Dogtown, but to have any hope of adoption, they have to be split up. Trainer John Garcia has the difficult job of separating two dogs who have never lived apart.

DOGTOWN: Second Chances, airs Friday, January 11, at 9 pm ET/PT
An older chow named Bruno heads to Dogtown for much-needed medical attention. His extensive ailments include a sunken eye and balance problems – symptoms indicative of a possible brain tumor. Dr. Dix and his staff do all they can for him, but will it be too late for Bruno? The staff faces a decision every family dreads: When is it time to let a beloved animal go? Meanwhile, Dogtown heads out on a rescue mission to a local Indian reservation. As the mid-day sun beats down on them, Dogtown manager Michelle Besmehn and other staff members search a garbage dump, hoping to save any abandoned dogs. The team finds two scared puppies on the brink of dehydration hiding among the trash. Back at the sanctuary, Sherry Woodard fosters one-year-old Annie, a behaviorally challenged dog with a serious history of biting an infant. Annie’s next challenge will bring her face-to-face with one of her biggest fears – a two-year-old child.

DOGTOWN: The Outsiders, airs Friday, January 18, at 9 pm ET/PT
A one-year-old bulldog named Wiggles arrives at Dogtown with unusual symptoms: he falls frequently and can’t control his bowels. Dr. Dix must determine if Wiggles’ condition is life-threatening, or if he’s stable enough to live in a home. Trainer Pat Whitacre faces a different kind of challenge: transforming spaniel-mix Jolene from a painfully shy, fearful dog into a happy, friendly one. Step by step, Pat attempts to socialize Jolene so she has a chance at adoption. Zoey, a Rotweiler/hound mix, suffers from crippling allergies to the environment and to humans. No allergy medication has worked. Dr. Dix works on a new plan of attack. As a caregiver at Dogtown, Thomas Foyles feels a connection with the most aggressive dogs, like Bones, a Vizsla street dog who was rescued and brought to Dogtown 11 years ago. When he arrived, Bones was known for attacking other dogs, but in the last few years he has mellowed. Now, Thomas believes Bones could live in a home for his last few years. So Bones will undergo an official assessment to see if his violent tendencies are truly gone.

Click here to watch a three-minute sample of Dogtown then tune in to the National Geographic Channel starting January 4th to watch entire episodes.

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