Reality TV has dominated for more than a decade; but while much of it focuses on relationships, “Treetop Cat Rescue,” premiering May 30 on Animal Planet, is introducing viewers to a new breed of reality: one that focuses on rescue – and involves quite a bit of biting, hissing, and scratching. Regardless, you’ll likely be giving it two paws up.
The half-hour program to air on Saturday nights will follow Tom Otto of Olympia, Wash., and Shaun Sears of North Bend, Wash., brothers-in-law and the operators of Canopy Cat Rescue, an organization specializing in rescuing cats from trees – because the Pacific Northwest is home to many very tall trees and cats always seem to find their way into them. Last year alone Otto and Sears rescued 250 cats; this year, they’re headed for 300.
Begun as a fee-based service, Canopy Cat Rescue now operates as a free helping hand to the community, relying on donations to keep the organization going.
“It’s more important to get the cat down than to make a buck on somebody’s misfortune,” Otto, 42, told The Seattle Times “Once we went to donations, we started getting media coverage and then we started getting more calls.”
Amongst those calls was a voice from Pilgrim Studios, a reality TV production company known for their work with “Ghost Hunters” and “Amazing America with Sarah Palin.” Pilgrim sent a crew out to film Otto and Sears at work for 15 days in December, creating test footage to shop to networks – including Animal Planet. Once the network purred approval, Otto and Sears were filmed for eight weeks to create a 10-episode series.
The premiere episode will spotlight two rescues in different parts of Western Washington, with future episodes following Sears and Otto on different daring situations – some of which may reflect the harder parts of the job (like bites). Mishaps aside, the two hope to inspire people to help animals, and serve as an educational platform for cat rescue.
“Some websites say if a cat is stuck in a tree, there’s no way it can come down and I know that’s not true because I’ve actually seen many cats climb down,” Sears said. “Some websites say a cat stuck in a tree will always find its way down and we realize that’s not true either. Basically we say if it’s up there longer than a day, it’s definitely time to get help.”
With Canopy Cat Rescue on the case, help is just a phone call away.
Will you be tuning in to “Treetop Cat Rescue”?