Tommy Habeeb created and, for the first two seasons, hosted the ultimate guilty pleasure TV show: “Cheaters,” in which a cheating spouse or partner was trailed, pretty much caught in the act and then confronted on camera.
These days, Habeeb is producing and headlining a very different syndicated series. “To the Rescue” profiles rescue dogs and the people who rescue them — and he recently brought his crew to Utah for an upcoming episode.
“It’s time that I used my platform to do something good,” he said. “Out of the thousands of hours of broadcast television that I’ve been in, this is the best work and the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.”
For those of us who love dogs, this goes straight to our hearts. Even if you’re not obsessed with your canines, “To the Rescue” can be an emotional experience.
“It’s about how the dogs affect these people’s lives and how these people affect the dogs’ lives,” Habeeb said. “I get emails — thousands of emails from around the country from people telling me, ‘I wept, and then I cheered.’ And that’s what I want. I want them to feel and learn something from the dogs, learn something from the people. And, hopefully, we educate them on the importance of animals in our lives.”
Habeeb said he has received “thousands” of requests from pet rescues across the country to be included in “To the Rescue,” but Tori Saylor with Fetch Cares, Utah’s first animal “fospice” (foster facility + hospice), in Kamas caught his attention.
“It’s the story of a young girl that was lost for 19 years of her life,” Habeeb said. Saylor told Habeeb that she learned that she has Asperger’s syndrome when she was 19, “and she didn’t know where to turn,” he said.
Then Saylor’s mother came home with a rescue dog, “and it changed her life. … She has now really dedicated her life to these dogs because they keep her alive,” Habeeb said.
Inspired by her own experience with a rescue dog, Saylor started Fetch as a doggie daycare/training center, growing from five dogs a day to about 50. And she extended that to the nonprofit Fetch Cares, which not only rescues dogs “that no one else will adopt” because of their disabilities, but also provides volunteer and employment opportunities to teens and adults with “exceptional needs.”
“I knew that it was very important that I tell this story,” Habeeb said. “This will be one of my favorite and most inspiring episodes I’ve done so far.”
(The episode hasn’t been scheduled yet, but will air sometime in the next few weeks.)
If you want to watch “To the Rescue” in Utah, you’ll probably have to record it. The show airs Saturday mornings at 5:30 a.m. on KSTU-Ch. 13.
“We’re hoping we’ll get moved to a better time,” Habeeb said. “But, yes, set your DVRs.”
Nobody at FOX 13 has asked for my programming advice, but … yeah, move it later, OK? Not because I love dogs, but because a lot of people do. And a lot more should.
“I promise you, if you get a dog, it will change your life,” Habeeb said. “In these difficult times, when we don’t know what’s going to be next, you just look in that dog’s eyes, and when he’s loving on you it changes your world.”