Best in Shelter with Jill Rappaport – Recap


On February 21, 2014, Jill Rapport hosted a half-hour special focusing on the story of several dogs in a few shelters across the country; and the importance of giving rescue dogs all across the country a second chance. Along the way, Jill introduced the viewers to several long-time dog rescue advocates including Betty White, Lou Wegner, Bryant and Hilary Gumbel, Lindsey Vonn, Bernadette Peters, and Emmy Lou Harris.

Watch it any time on the NBC New York site: “Best In Show with Jill Rappaport”

“Best In Show with Jill Rappaport” was structured like an awards show, focusing specifically on three categories of rescue dogs with each category “judged” by a celebrity. Blue Buffalo was generous enough to donate a year’s worth of food to each category winner as well as a giant merchandise prize package. Subaru was the second sponsor mentioned. Subaru has been a long-time partner with the ASPCA and is involved in dozens of pet placement and awareness events every year across the country.

Betty White moderated the “Sizzlin’ Seniors” category; featuring entrants Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose. Quite often, dogs are brought to shelters or abandoned because they are old, aren’t as photogenic, or the perception is that they will experience mounting health problems. On the contrary, senior rescue dogs can be a great addition to less active homes. Typically, they don’t require a lot of walking or exercise, they leave the shelter in good health, and they still can have many great years of companionship. A lot of people want that ‘cute, new puppy’ look, but seniors are just as good looking and can easily integrate into many types of households. The winner in this category was Rose, determined by Lou Wegner.

The “Mutts and Tripods” segment was gust hosted by Bryant and Hilary Gumbel. They, along with Jill, visited Main Line Animal Rescue in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where they work to heal and rehabilitate animals that have lost, or come in with sever limb injuries. Dogs with three legs aren’t something we see every day, so most people are cautious about them – and their health and quality of life, but according to the experts at Main Line, these animals are resilient and have the same life expectancy as their four-legged counterparts. It is amazing to see how well equipped some rescues are across the country – Main Line has its own surgery room!

Mutts are another often overlooked category. Mutts bring a unique dynamic to any family. They are original, have lots of fun traits and quirks and truly are one-of-a-kind. The representative from Main Line said that mutts are often seem more appreciative when they are taken home.

The dogs in this category were Carmen, Walter, and Samuel. Bryant chose Samuel as the winner.

Lindsey Vonn shared that she chose her rescue dog because she was looking for a companion while she recovered from a knee surgery. As it turns out, the dog she connected with was a dog who had leg surgery as well and had six pins in one of his legs. It seems like they were destined to be together.

Jill showed us the ASPCA in New York, and their shelter downtown. There, we were introduced to a pair of pitbulls who were part of a fighting ring, but rescued by the police and turned over to the ASPCA. These dogs were running around, licking, chasing toys, and didn’t at all live up to the pitbull stereotype that most people have. People are afraid of “pitbulls” but quite often haven’t met one, and don’t realize that any dog, of any breed, can be dangerous if they are raised in the wrong environmental. Bernadette Peters was the guest for this segment and introduced the dogs in the “Pitts Putting On The Ritz” category. The dogs were Fiona, Onyx, and Patriot. The winner was Patriot.

Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore co-organize the annual Broadway Barks event, bringing dogs to Broadway once a year. They host events on the street where you can meet numerous adoptable dogs and cats, typically between shows on a Sunday, so you can meet Broadway stars, and maybe even see some animals i the theater before the show!

Here is a list of links to the shelters and guests of the show.


Jill Rappaport –
Betty White –
Bryant Gumbel –
Lou Wegner –
Lindsey Vonn –
Bernadette Peters –
Emmy Lou Harris –


Helen Woodward Animal Center

Kids Against Animal Cruelty

Main Line Animal Rescue

Broadway Barks

Bonaparte’s Retreat


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