An extraordinary thing happened last week on prime time TV.
The Fox network cleared a solid hour of television real estate on Thanksgiving night, right after the Eagles game to devote to dogs.
We're not talking about a fancy dog show. This was an hour-long infomercial for pet rescue and adoption featuring appearances by some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
Fox Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular, a history-making television moment. It was the first full hour on prime time national TV devoted to pet rescue.
The show snuck up on a lot of us. I heard about it a few days before it aired because a local Philadelphia woman was among the honorees.Hosted by Hillary Swank and Jane Lynch, the show feature a star-studded lineup from the music, film and TV worlds. Miley Cyrus, Melissa Lambert, Channing Tatum, Queen Latifah and Scarlett Johannson among them.
The show was the brainchild of TV producer Michael Leavitt, a devoted animal rescuer who rounded up his Hollywood pals to put on the show.
Most stars were featured in sweet videos with their rescue dogs. Of course, the longtime animal advocate Betty White was on hand, urging viewers to spay and neuter their animals.
The message, repeated often, was "adopt don't shop." The show threw a spotlight on animal transporting, which helps move pets out of high-kill shelters, celebrated special needs dogs and highlighted the plight of beagles used in animal research..
Miley Cyrus delivered an appeal against so-called "breed specific legislation" that targets pit bulls and other breeds deemed "dangerous."
Throughout the show adoptable dogs selected from shelters and rescues around the country made appearances to the oohs and aahs of the audience.
Among the honorees was Bryn Donnelly, national programs director for Animal Lifeline of Warrington, received the shelter hero of the year award.
Donnelly is cofounder and program director of Rescue Rebuild, a "Habitat for Humanity" for animal shelters, sponsored by the Greater Good organization and Animal Lifeline. Donnelly, a professor at Delaware Valley Community College, leads volunteer trips to struggling communities around the country to fix up - and brighten up - animal shelters in dire need of repair.