New homegrown TV series celebrates pet rescuers

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The Pet Rescuers
Photo: Maryna Lipatova 123RF

With its recent premiere on Channel Nine, a new series, The Pet Rescuers, offers a perfectly timed antidote to a very challenging year. This 10-part documentary series follows the daily adventures of a team on a mission to give abandoned pets a second chance at a happy life.

“Each year in Australia, a quarter of a million dogs and cats are put down, due to overcrowded pounds and shelters”, said Marisa Debattista, who leads the team at Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) in Melbourne. “It’s a tragic cycle that we’re determined to end.”

Rescuing cats on death row, bottle-feeding kittens, performing life-saving surgery and rehabilitating neglected dogs, before finding them new homes are all in a day’s work at the outer suburban shelter, where no animal in need is ever forsaken. 

“As long as there’s a chance they can be nursed through to a healthy, happy life, we won’t give up on them,” Debattista said.

Not even a global pandemic could slow down the efforts of the team at SCAR, producer Euan Jones said. They didn’t falter, doing everything from “taking surrenders in the car park, doing outdoor vet consults, [and] delivering free pet food to owners in need”.

Filming during Victoria’s second lockdown brought an unexpected upside to the production by Silverfox Network. “We had to scale down so much that many scenes featured just one person and an animal and had to be shot on a GoPro,” producer Gillian Bartlett said.

“The result is fabulously intimate. Each character—both two- and four-legged—shines through and every interaction beautifully illustrates the warmth and depth of the bond between them.”

While The Pet Rescuers title seems to refer to the humans in the story, SCAR member Megan insists it could be read another way. “I think animals are much more resilient than we are,” she said.

“As long as they’re loved, as long as there’s food, animals bounce back so quickly. They teach us so much about survival, sometimes it feels as though they are actually rescuing us.”

The Pet Rescuers can be viewed on Channel Nine on Saturday at 4pm. Watch the first episode online.

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