Animals get equal time on TV shows

March 28, 1994|By Howard Rosenberg | Howard Rosenberg,Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- It's raining cats and dogs.

More accurately, it's "Cats & Dogs," a two-hour special -- 60 minutes per species -- on cable's TBS channel tonight. Neither bark nor bite, it's lovable and slobbery.

Then tomorrow comes a special edition of "Rescue 911," animal-advocate Arnold Shapiro's "reality" series whose life-saving stories usually feature only humans. This time the entire hour grants more than equal time to animals, from four-legged patients at the University of California, Davis' veterinary hospital, to Wilma the pot-bellied pig in Oregon. Trapped in a burning house, she seems a goner until a cop carries her to safety. She squeals, you squeal.

Although the show's re-enactments continue to be problematic, your eyes mist as K-9 Officer Duke, a Modesto, Calif., police dog, appears doomed after getting stabbed while taking down a knife-wielding lunatic. Things are looking grim for the critically wounded Duke until his compassionate partner, Officer Gene Ballentine, starts cheering him up, even sleeping with Duke in his hospital cage for seven days. Is this great or what? There on the screen is Mr. Ballentine scrunched beside his friend, reading get-well cards: "This says, 'To Duke . . . ' "

"Cats & Dogs" is a pet lover's best friend. The occasional human voice-overs for dogs should have been cut off at the larynx, however, and let's be candid here: This is very lightweight stuff. But how many more documentaries about lions eating wildebeests can you take?

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