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“Mutts” Comic Strips Focus on Shelter Animals This Week

Creator Patrick McDonnell drew them after spending time in an NYC shelter; they're both the focus of a new PBS "Shelter Me" episode.

Michael Leaverton  |  Feb 2nd 2016


For episode six of PBS’s inspiring Shelter Me series, “Hearts and Paws,” which will debut in May, filmmaker Steven Latham profiled an icon in the dog world, at least for those who enjoy the Sunday funnies: animal advocate Patrick McDonnell, creator of the Mutts comic strip.

He focused on the artist behind his desk as well as New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter, Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell went there because he wanted to feature shelter dogs and cats in his work, and he took a hands-on role with staff, volunteers, and the hundreds of animals in ACC’s care. The experience affected him greatly.

“I realized that Mooch and Earl [Mutts‘ main characters] have such great homes and loving guardians, and I thought about all the dogs and cats who don’t and are just sitting in shelters waiting,” he said in the Shelter Me episode.

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Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate

McDonnell soaked in what he experienced and then turned it into art: a series of Mutts strips, featuring the dogs, cats, and other animals he met, and featuring their real-life stories. Every day this week, a new strip debuts in more than 700 newspapers.

The high-fiving cat in real life.

Here’s the high-fiving cat in real life.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the ACC of NYC, but what I found was dedicated, driven staff and volunteers; actively involved rescue groups; a supportive community; and adoptable, loving animals,” said McDonnell. “ACC is rapidly becoming a role model for large-scale city shelters, and NYC should be proud of all that has been accomplished.”

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Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate

We’re not too familiar with the funny pages, but we’re pretty sure there have not been a lot of shelters featured throughout the years, despite the untold numbers of dogs and cats who make up the cast of characters. Kudos to McDonnell for shinning a light on those who need it so much.

“It was an uplifting experience,” he said. “My hope is that by telling these stories, readers will be inspired to support their local shelters and to adopt a new best buddy.”

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Check out a preview of the Shelter Me episode “Hearts and Paws,” which was created through help by the Petco Foundation and Halo, Purely for Pets:

To see more of this week’s strips, head to the Mutts website.

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