Animal lovers gather around because That Animal Rescue Show is coming to a smart device near you today! Executive Produced by Richard Linklater, That Animal Rescue Show is a CBS All Access exclusive highlighting the animal rescue scene around Linklater’s home state of Texas. Season one will feature ten episodes taking viewers through a number of different animal rescue organizations to see how they go about their mission.
CBS‘ Matt Weiss spoke to Linklater to discuss his own history with animal rescue and what viewers can look forward to in this feel good series.
MW: Hi Richard, excited to talk to you today about That Animal Rescue Show, all 10 episodes drop today. I’m a big fan of a straightforward title and you can’t get much more straightforward than That Animal Rescue Show. Was there some kind of personal history with you and animals that really brought about this show?
RL: Certainly. My family, we had a pig and so I was aware there’s a problem in pig breeding. There’s a lot of people abandoning their pets. People are told by the breeders the pig would stay very miniature and cute, because pigs are exceedingly cute when they’re very little. I think they’re always cute. But you know they get bigger, they’re pigs.
People were abandoning them because they got over 35 pounds or something. There is this kind of crisis and all these pigs were being abandoned. We had a pig with some extra land and I thought about how we could take in some pigs. Then I realized there was this place here in central Texas that was already doing that, Central Texas Pig Rescue. I got to know them and I thought, wow what a life, all these really passionate people who dedicate their lives to the well being of these pigs.
The Central Texas Pig Rescue gave us a lot of information about pig behavior, like a pig behaviorist. It was pretty fascinating. I got to know more people in the animal rescue community. This is really a very life affirming, wonderful, subculture, I think. I thought it would be kind of a fun show to do to show not only the people who are dedicating their lives to this but to the animals themselves. They all have names, how dedicated they are.
I was very, very touched by all of it and thought it would be something worthwhile to communicate in the world. A lot of people, especially if you live in an urban environment, you really don’t have any contact, you might have domestic pets, but other than that you don’t really have much contact with animals in your lives. I think it’s unnatural, we should have a lot of contact with animals.
MW: Isn’t it true that a mini pig is anything under about 200 pounds?
RL: Yeah, people think that it’s something they can put in their backpack and carry to the coffee shops. Like yeah, for about a month.
MW: Right and then it’s 100 lbs in the blink of an eye and they don’t know what to do with it.
RL: Yeah, yeah. We’re kind of in opposition to that. Pigs are wonderful animals. I think people expect them to be dogs, but they’re wonderfully pigs. It’s been one of my favorite pets. We have four now. They’re pretty wonderful .
MW: The show takes place around Austin, TX. What is it about that area that lends itself to all these rescue organizations?
RL: Oh, I don’t know if it’s, I guess I don’t technically know if it’s that particular to Austin or to the Central Texas region. I think you could do this show almost anywhere. There’s a lot of animal rescues around the country, around the world, but this is just what I knew.
I guess Austin, put it like this, we have a pink pageant, a pig body positivity pig pageant in the second or third episode. That maybe could only happen in Austin, where hundreds of people show up and vote on their favorite pig costume. It’s a celebration and fundraiser for Central Texas Pig Rescue. It’s a town that you know might support that more than other places. I think there’s something universal here.
MW: Those organizations that you are working with, I know they’re very diverse in that they help a number of different animals with different programs. Can you walk me through a few of the different ones that we’re going to see on the show?
RL: Oh yeah, we cover a lot of ground, a lot of animals. We have a no kill shelter, a very pioneering no-kill shelter in Austin, that’s a whole episode. We have a bat rescue. A lot of therapeutic rescues, goats, wildlife in particular. Between the 10 episodes every episode has different rescues. We get to know different people and different animals. It covers a pretty wide broth of organizations and people and animals.
MW: A lot of times when humans help out or rescue animals it’s really a mutually beneficial relationship. Can you talk about that subject and how that’s going to be covered in the show?
RL: Yeah, I think it goes without saying that there’s such a therapeutic aspect. We all feel it in our own lives in our relations with animals but you see it very directly whether it’s therapeutic, very specifically to kids who are working with animals, whether they have autism or something else. There’s one episode it’s called Paws in Prison, where there’s a women’s prison around here where they have a dog adoption program. Every inmate adopts a dog and that is particularly very specific, very, very touching.
You see the therapeutic aspect and you really get to know all the women why and they’re there. You see the dogs actually rescuing them very specifically. I think that’s what the show without underlining it too much; it’s pretty obvious. What’s that saying, all dogs are therapy dogs.
MW: Absolutely. A very big passion project for you with a very uplifting message at a time when people really need that. What do you want people to take away when they watch That Animal Rescue Show?
RL: I think we started out thinking these episodes were like short documentaries about these different rescues and the people who run them, the passionate people who run them, and the animals that you encounter. I think you want to encounter that, but I don’t know I think it’s just a positive thing to see people who care, their passion, feel that connection to life and everything.
It sounds different, it’s not like a crazy reality show and there’s not a lot of unearned drama. There’s not a lot of hype drama. There is a drama within these animal’s lives, what they’re doing and the people running the places. I think it’s fun to hang out. I like hanging out movies, people just hang out. I consider this a fun show to watch and just hang out and that’s how you feel when you’re at these rescues and you meet these people and animals. We’re just trying to convey that because it’s a positive thing in your life. I know it for sure.
MW: Absolutely, well definitely looking forward to catching all ten episodes. Thanks for the time today Richard and all the best!
RL: Thanks, you too.
Watch all ten episodes of That Animal Rescue Show on demand right now with CBS All Access.