Philly pit mix makes starting lineup in Puppy Bowl XIII



Forget the Falcons. Super Bowl Sunday is all about the puppies.

Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XIII will air at 3 p.m. Sunday, a few hours before the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots.

And get ready to cheer for Philadelphia, because there will be a few hometown hounds on the playing field.

Max, a pit bull mix from Center City’s Morris Animal Refuge, and Wilma, a pug-Shih Tzu mix from New Life Animal Rescue in Marlton, New Jersey, made Team Fluff’s starting lineup.

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Unfortunately Chuchi, a chihuahua from Morris, only made the reserve team, said Lewis Checchia, the refuge’s CEO.

But all three dogs were winners in the end, because they have been adopted by loving owners since the two-day film shoot in New York City three months ago. (Max now lives with a South Jersey family, and a Morris volunteer took Chuchi home for good, Checchia said. Wilma also has been adopted.)

The puppies got no paychecks, nor even had their travel expenses reimbursed. They’ll have to be content just with the glory of national TV exposure – and all the dog treats they got during filming.

“And who knows if they’ll have any agents offer their services after they become famous?” Checchia joked.

It was the second year a Morris puppy made the Puppy Bowl team. Last year, a Rottweiler puppy named Leia played, Checchia said.

Morris’ staff and supporters will celebrate their celebrity pups with a Puppy Bowl-watching party from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Devil’s Den on 11th Street near Ellsworth in East Passyunk. Max and Chuchi will be there. Proceeds from the event will support the Morris shelter.

“This is a very exciting time for us,” Checchia said. “Animal Planet does a really nice job of building awareness of shelter animals all across the country. It really helps us with donations and support.”

Morris Animal Refuge, founded in 1874, is considered America’s first animal shelter, Checchia said. It’s an open-admissions shelter, meaning staffers will not turn away any animal surrendered there. And about 100 animals a month are surrendered to Morris, with about as many getting adopted each month, Checchia said. Most are dogs and cats, but they’ve also taken in chinchillas, turtles, chicks, bunnies, snakes, birds, and an elephant (abandoned by the circus in a train yard in 1900).

“If there’s an animal in need, we will take it,” Checchia said.

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