"The Back-Up Plan" Raises Awareness of Homeless, Handicapped Pets
Jennifer Lopez stars as "Chloe" in "The Back-Up Plan," which deals with the issue of homeless and handicapped pets. Her character's dog, "Nuts," is a major part of the romantic comedy. (Photo Courtesy of CBS Films)
The romantic comedy "The Back-Up Plan," starring Jennifer Lopez and Alex O’Loughlin, opened this weekend at the box office. And for homeless and handicapped pets, the movie is more than just a fun flick.
"[Chloe] has a pet store but does not sell animals because she brings in only rescued or shelter animals, using her store as a venue for that," American Humane's Jone Bouman said of Lopez's character. "And they are using a handicapped animal, which is another message that gets intertwined in all of this — that handicapped pets can make great pets as well."
Chloe's pet, "Nuts," is a rescued, handicapped Boston terrier who uses a brace and cart to mobilize his paralyzed rear legs. But, according to Bouman, Hollywood performed a trick of movie magic by casting three different dogs in the role, none of who are handicapped, as well as building "an ingenious apparatus."
"The dog had a little platform that he was standing on, but you can't notice it because of how they covered it up," said Bouman, whose TV & Film Unit monitors the working conditions of animals on set.
In American Humane's extensive experience — monitoring more than 1,000 productions a year — "we have seen it all, trust me," Bouman said with a chuckle.
"We have seen handicaps — limping and such — but this was a pretty rare occurrence. This dog had a major role and was in a lot of scenes, so it is unusual," Bouman said of the significance of bringing a paralyzed, "wheelchair"-bound pet into mainstream prominence.
In conjunction with CBS Films, the studio behind "The Back-Up Plan," American Humane held 12 adoption events in major markets last weekend, where "Paw-tographs" from Nuts and advance screening passes where given to shelter visitors.
Each of the markets heavily promoted the events at their local shelters, with CBS radio and broadcast news affiliates airing promotional segments leading up to the weekend and covering the day's results.
"One of the success stories I heard out of the Denver shelter is that they adopted out 306 pets in the course of a couple of days," Bouman told Zootoo Pet News. "It's a huge number and they were just thrilled."
Expected to be the studio's first major success, since "CBS Films has only been around for a couple years," "The Back-Up Plan" could help raise awareness on the issues surrounding homeless and handicapped pets.
"Less than 20 percent of the pets are adopted from shelters and that translates into millions of pets being euthanized every year," said Bouman, who hopes the film will help boost adoptions. "So we need to get that number up, up, up, so that people are more aware of homeless pets, and so that the vast majority of people can adopt pets."
"That the correct and positive messaging that is written into the plot of the movie, and that is a win-win for everyone."
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