Dan Schechter wants to help you adopt a dog this year. He’s a champion of shelters, fostering, and adopting dogs (and cats). His message is clear and his platform is huge: Schechter is the ref for Animal Planet’s yearly Puppy Bowl.
We caught up with Schechter recently to talk about the Puppy Bowl and all the cuteness you can handle in a single TV program. But our the puppy cuteness ended up being the least of the subjects we spoke about. Sure, Schechter and Animal Planet want to give a little much-needed puppy therapy with their Super Bowl inspired shenanigans, but they also want you to connect with your local shelters to adopt or foster a pet.
In conversation, it’s clear that Schechter really cares deeply about getting puppies and full-grown dogs out of shelters and into a loving and caring home. His enthusiasm for dogs bubbles over as he talks about the joys of fostering shelter dogs and seeing them find adoptive homes. The guy truly loves his job and cares deeply. And that attitude is what makes the Puppy Bowl stand out: Animal Planet could have hired any ol’ actor to play the role, instead, they found someone whose life’s passion was rescuing dogs.
This year’s Puppy Bowl and new Dog Bowl especially resonate as the “games” will exclusively feature dogs from natural disaster zones in Texas, Florida, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The bowls will highlight the plight of shelters in places that have had to deal with catastrophe and the pets you can help save in the wake of a disaster.
Let’s start off with you a little bit. Can you tell us how you became the Puppy Bowl ref?
At the time that Puppy Bowl came around, I was hosting a sports show on another network here in New York City. It was kind of a combination of sports and animals. So, they thought of me for the job. I went in for an interview or two, and I had to make an audition tape. I guess you could call it the most unique audition tape ever because it was really just me referring random dogs out on the street. And they bought it. Here I am seven years later.
Did you have any referee experience before you started reffing the Puppy Bowl?
No, just sports experience. I played sports all my life. I’ve been a huge sports fan all my life. Football was certainly in my blood. Animals have always been a passion because I grew up with dogs. When this job came together, it was the perfect marriage of two lifelong passions. So, to answer your question, all the experience came from on the job training.