With its premiere on Channel Nine at 4pm, Saturday 6 March, The Pet Rescuers offers a perfectly timed boost to flagging morale. This 10-part doco series promises to melt hearts, raise spirits and restore faith in humanity as it 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”, says 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 fur baby 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,” assures Marisa.
Not even a global pandemic could slow down these champions of the underdog (and cat). “They became Covid-safe warriors overnight,” says producer Euan Jones. “Taking surrenders in the car park, doing outdoor vet consults, 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,” explains producer Gillian Bartlett. “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 may seem 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 explains. “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.”