Puppy Bowl Sheds National Light on Local Pet Rescue

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DE SOTO, Iowa  --  You can see four local puppies take the turf this Sunday, and it will help shed a national light on a local pet rescue.

"She's just very loving," said Melanie Hanke about her long haired Chihuahua named Lucianna--Lucy, for short.

Lucy joined Hanke's family in September. “She's been the best gift to us," said Hanke.

After bringing her home from AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue and Transport in De Soto, the family learned Lucy had an exciting opportunity. "They told us that she was maybe a candidate for the Puppy Bowl. We were very excited, yet a little nervous to let her go," said Hanke.

Lucy joined Boxer Mix Laila, Blue Tick Coonhound Bizmark, and Doxie and Jr. Terrier Mix Sweet Corn to make the two-day drive to New York City for the Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl XIII.

"It's always fun to stay in hotels with lots of puppies, and nobody poops," said Amy Heinz, with AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue and Transport.

Volunteers escorted the Iowa pups to NYC for the one-day taping of the Puppy Bowl, which is when Team Ruff and Team Fluff take the turf for the canine competition. "We have a great time,” said Heinz.

This is the 5th year they've taken puppies from AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue to the Puppy Bowl. Heinz said the national attention makes a big difference in raising awareness for the operation.

"For us to get national attention is huge, and ever since we went to the Puppy Bowl the first time, our rescue has exploded," she said. "We get donations from all over the country. Our Facebook is viewed by up to almost 600,000 people."

AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue serves about 140 animals at any time, either at the group's building in De Soto or through foster homes. The group is funded by donations.

While Hanke is excited to see Lucy on television, she's really looking forward to people learning about pet rescues. "It's an amazing experience and such a gift to be able to experience the bond between a dog and their owner, and just to know you saved a life somehow, it's very rewarding," she said.

You can watch the Puppy Bowl this Sunday at 2 p.m. on Animal Planet. AHeinz 57 will host a watch party at the Hyatt Hotel in West Des Moines starting at 1 p.m.