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Classic programming, then and now

Arizona’s longest-running local TV show turns 60

From Animal Sheltering magazine Spring 2019

'Pets on Parade' has delighted and informed generations of Arizonians.

If Pets on Parade were a person, it might be thinking about retirement. But luckily for the homeless pets served by the Arizona Humane Society, the state’s longest- running local television show isn’t even slowing down.

Produced by the humane society in cooperation with KTVK-3TV, Pets on Parade celebrated its 60th anniversary in December. During that run, the half-hour weekly show has helped find homes for about 31,000 animals featured on an estimated 3,000 episodes. Weekly viewership totals around 20,000, and Kelsey Dickerson, the AHS media relations specialist who has hosted Pets on Parade for a little over a year, says you’d be hardpressed to find an Arizonian who hasn’t at least heard of the program.

The show’s format—Dickerson and humane society volunteers presenting adoptable pets in the 3TV studio, touting their attributes and recounting their stories— harkens back to a simpler time and gives viewers a good feeling, says Bretta Nelson, the humane society’s public relations manager. “It’s reality TV, really.”

The show is “taped to look live,” Dickerson says, explaining that it only takes about 45 minutes to tape a 30-minute program. “We don’t do any re-dos,” she adds. “When an animal acts funny on the show or something crazy happens, we just kind of roll with it.”

So when a kitten Dickerson was holding “kind of chomped down on my finger” just as she was explaining how sweet he was, she smiled right through it. “He was just playing, and I forgot a toy,” she explains.

The show also gives AHS, which has a field rescue team and a trauma hospital, a chance to tell its own story and share pet care tips.

Dickerson says it’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of legendary AHS volunteer Marge Wright, who hosted Pets on Parade for more than 40 years. “It truly is a labor of love,” Dickerson says. “… You feel the energy, the pets are all excited, and you know that you are truly making a difference.”

About the Author

James Hettinger is the assistant editorial director for Animal Sheltering magazine at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He's responsible for editing copy and managing the production of the award-winning quarterly publication aimed at shelter and rescue personnel. Prior to joining The HSUS in 2008, James worked for several local newspapers and trade associations in the Washington, D.C., area. He shares his home with three cats: Edgar, Dana and Vinny.