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The catfight starts in the dog yard at Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento, California. Four women in high heels and bodycon dresses vie for the affections of Colton, a handsome hunk of a dog. As the competition escalates, there are tearful recriminations, backstabbing asides to the camera and an ugly confrontation over a leash.
Will Colton find love on this season of The Adopter? Which of these eligible ladies will he choose to be his own? While the 1-minute teaser video leaves viewers guessing, the voiceover promises “the most dramatic season yet,” along with “the shocking twist you never saw coming.”
It’s all part of a hilarious parody of The Bachelor, ABC’s popular dating competition reality show. Nikki Potter, a student intern in Front Street’s communications and outreach department, is an unapologetic fan of the show, where a good-looking single man mingles with a few dozen beauties and awards roses to his favorites at the end of each episode, ultimately deciding on one “lucky” lady.
When trailers for The Bachelor’s 23rd season began airing late last year, Potter saw an opportunity to promote another passion of hers: shelter adoptions. “I felt like we needed to jump on the bandwagon and use pop culture to get our name out more,” she says.
“I’d only watched the show a couple of times,” admits Ryan Hinderman, the shelter’s social media coordinator, who wrote the script, directed the video and appears as the emcee at the end. Potter dug out her high school homecoming dress to play one of the contestants and watched dozens of reruns as research. The pair recruited two more interns and a foster volunteer to co-star as the remaining contestants, and they cast a laid-back pit bulltype dog—whose shelter name is The Dude—to play Colton (which is the name of the titular character on this season’s The Bachelor.)
The Adopter went live on Front Street’s SCOOP social media channels in January; by early May, it had racked up more than 530,000 views. “People have loved it,” Hinderman says. “There have been a couple of shelters that asked to make their own versions of it. A lot of people have commented that they would never watch the actual show, but this show they’d watch.”
Hinderman and his team have produced dozens of videos on serious subjects, including the dangers of leaving pets in parked vehicles and tutorials on how to find a lost pet. But even light-hearted videos like The Adopter have a purpose: They reach new demographics and help shift the culture of pet ownership, Hinderman says. “It’s now cool to say, ‘This is the dog I adopted or rescued.’”
The video ends with the four contestants seated around Colton, stroking his fur and showering him with rose petals. Colton looks slightly bewildered but happy for all the attention. “Countless animals need an adopter,” reads the final frame. “Meet your true love at your local shelter.”
Hinderman and Potter report that, like many of the TV bachelors before him, Colton didn’t find his forever match among the contestants. But just before Valentine’s Day, fate brought a woman named Lisa to the shelter. Once the adoption papers were signed, Colton (aka The Dude) trotted out of Front Street’s doors—happy to leave his bachelor days behind him.
Watch the ladies of Front Street Animal Shelter vie for handsome Colton’s affections at bit.ly/TheAdopter.