HOUSTON- Thousands of fans packed the NFL Experience Wednesday, but it was a different experience, featuring a different bowl, that was one of the main attractions.
"The stars of the show are the puppies," said Tommy Gimler, who's been the Puppy Bowl Experience "Rufferree" since it began four years ago.
"Puppies are ratings man. You can have the president of the United States walking behind and no one would care, if the puppies are out. They’re chewing on each other, or chewing on one of those toys.”
But outside the rough and fluff – comes a more important message.
"We’ve got puppies from both CAP and Houston Humane and every single puppy is looking for a forever home," explained Gimler.
Both the Houston Humane Society and Citizens for Animal Protection will be showing off dozens of their puppies available for adoption throughout the next five days.
“It’s helping us spotlight not only Houston’s huge pet overpopulation problem and the thousands of animals each year that need a home locally, but it’s also helping drive people to the shelter," said Monica Schmidt, who's worked with the Houston Humane Society for nine years.
As a non-profit, she said they never could have afford the publicity their stage will receive over the next five days.
“We would never have the advertising budget to gain this type of exposure. So for us, it's priceless. We would not be able to get in front of a crowd this size for several days in a row, getting to expose them not only to pet adoption through Houston Humane, maybe even when they go back home to their local shelter. Maybe they decide to adopt, volunteer, foster, or get involved in some way to help homeless animals," said Schmidt.
Gimler said in each of the first three years, ever dog that participated in the Puppy Bowl Experience was adopted. They're hoping this year runs their streak to four.
"Monday morning at each location, it will be a first come, first serve basis as long as they can provide a proper forever home. And then the greatest part about that is even when the puppies they saw here at the Puppy Bowl Experience run out, each shelter has so many more dogs that wind up finding a forever home because no one wants to go home without finding that pup," said Gimler.
As for the Puppy Bowl, there will also be a local representative - 6 - month old Duke, a Labrador Retriever mix, will be competing on behalf of Houston.