Beth Stern isn't just a spokesperson for animal adoption, she has placed more than 2,000 cats in homes over the last nine-and-a-half years.
Stern and her husband, radio host Howard Stern, even maintain rooms — in three different homes — dedicated entirely to their foster pets, so wherever they are, there are foster cats and kittens. "I bounce around, and can save more lives that way," she says, adding that the couple also has six resident cats and a rescued rabbit.
Now the actress and former model is hosting the first annual Great American Rescue Bowl, featuring pets available for adoption at shelters throughout the country. The special promises to be as adorable as it sounds: teams of dogs, then cats, followed by puppies and finally kittens will take the miniaturized field to play — all for a good cause.
The ninety-minute program airs February 12 at 10:30 a.m. ET, and encores at 4 p.m. ET — the same day as the Super Bowl, for viewers seeking an alternative (or lead-in) to football — on the Great American Family Channel. The special was announced after the Hallmark Channel canceled the long-running Kitten Bowl, which Stern also hosted.
Stern, who is on the board of North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, introduced North Shore to then-Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott, who created Kitten Bowl. After the show's cancellation, Abbott picked up the concept for Great American Media, the parent company to Great American Family.
"Pets are an integral part of so many people's lives," says Abbott, now president and CEO of Great American Media. "There are so many pets in shelters, and it's our dream that all the cages are empty one day."
Abbott explains that the show will feature stories highlighting the personalities of cats and dogs in need of homes, best shelter practices and rescue efforts after disasters like Hurricane Ian in southwestern Florida. "North Shore does great work in times of need," Abbott says. "Any time there's a natural disaster, they work on trying to reunite owners with pets, or find new homes for them. If the show helps to save one animal, we've done the right thing."
The show will broadcast from North Shore's campus in Port Washington, New York, where Stern spearheaded the creation of Bianca's Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center, a 14,000 square-foot cage-free facility for cats and kittens and a feline medical center.
The center was named in honor of Stern's bulldog Bianca, whose passing several years ago inspired Stern to amplify her efforts. Now, her days start at 5 a.m. with feedings for foster and special needs cats and kittens, who have conditions ranging from blindness to neurological disorders.
"Many of my rescue cats and fosters are special needs," Stern says. "It's my purpose in life to help them. On Super Bowl Sunday, our rescue partners will open their shelters and have watch parties for the show. It's a feel-good program that will encourage people to adopt."