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Dec 19, 2014 7:28 PM

More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) More than 4,400 people filed adoption papers for homeless dogs during what was billed as the first all-star dog adoption telethon, producers say.

"If only half of those result in adoptions, that would be huge," director Michael Levitt said.

Seventy dogs from rescues across the country were featured on the two-hour Thanksgiving night telecast a show the producer see becoming a fixture in the future.

More than 4 million people tuned in to the show, which was co-hosted by actresses Hilary Swank and Jane Lynch, and aired on donated time from the Fox Network.

Besides the permanent homes offered, 250 people signed up as foster parents for homeless dogs, Levitt said.

Swank said for her, the magic of "Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular" was "watching the dream of saving hundreds of dogs turn into the reality that became thousands as the awareness was raised of the severe homeless pet problem."

She added the show was the best holiday gift she could receive.

"Knowing that lives were saved as people opened their hearts and homes to new four-legged family members warms my heart and touches my soul more than you can imagine," Swank said.

Levitt said the goal was to educate people in an entertaining way and show them the joy that comes from rescuing animals.

"There was one amazing comment after another posted on social media, including people who posted pictures of dogs they went out and rescued because of the show," the director said.

Singer-actress Miley Cyrus confirmed just three days before the show that she would be there, Levitt said. She agreed to do a segment on pit bulls, writing her own copy and doing her own research. It was a side of Cyrus some people have never seen, he said.

The director said he couldn't imagine that there wouldn't be more telethons because this one was so successful.

Viewers also donated more than $200,000 during the telethon that will be distributed to eligible rescues. The show had more than 150,000 unique users and over 1 million page views after the special aired.

Some of the rescues represented on the telethon reported getting an additional 15,000 hits on their websites in the days after the telethon.



"Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular," www.fox.com/causeforpaws


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