We Started the Sidekick Series to Spotlight Rescue Animals


I have loved cats for as long as I can remember. My parents had adopted Topspin before I was born, and she was a constant source of joy and amusement growing up. Topspin earned her name by sitting herself on top of our TV, trying to bat the tennis ball during the Bjorn Borg matches my father used to love watching. He had led me to believe that she was a quite valuable "50-whiskered cat," while in reality she was quite ordinary — an American Shorthair with a bit of a temper.

With that said, to me she was the best cat who ever lived, and when she died at the old age of 18, I mourned her like I would have any other member of my family. After Topspin’s passing, my parents and I adopted two more cats from a shelter, and it wasn’t until college that I didn’t have a cat in my life.

Living in a small apartment, studying at NYU, I was learning how to live on my own. While I knew I wasn’t ready to adopt a cat, I missed having a friend to come home to.

When a (human) friend told me he was going to buy a cat from a breeder, I tried to let him know with as little judgement as possible that he could adopt an amazing cat from a shelter, but his mind was made up. He’d researched breeds and wanted a British Shorthair.

A few weeks later he invited me over to meet Burger King, the kitten he’d picked out, and needless to say I fell in love. But as luck would have it (either for me or B.K. — I’m still not sure whom this worked out better for), it didn’t work out between my friend and the kitten, and he asked me if I wanted to adopt B.K. I said yes, and B.K. and I have been together ever since.

I’ve been taking pictures of B.K. since the moment I got him seven years ago. The more I got into photography, the more pictures I started taking, and as I worked to improve as a filmmaker, I found myself using B.K. to test cameras and lenses on. As a documentary filmmaker, I’ve filmed all kinds of things, but at the end of the day, my favorite thing to photograph has always been animals.

A few months ago, my long-time friend Suzanna sent me a link to an article about her dog, Hans, who had survived being shot before Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue brought him up from the South and Suzanna had adopted him. The story got me thinking: How many rescued animals have tales similar to Hans’s? Could I find these stories and make something that would encourage people to adopt their own rescued cats and dogs instead of buying animals from breeders or pet stores?

Suzanna was immediately on board. With her connections in the dog world and social media strategy expertise, we decided to partner on this project and take it from a few short documentaries to something much more ambitious.

We’ve been working since September to bring you all The Sidekick Series, a web series that features the stories of rescued cats and dogs as told by their human "parents." When I started filming I had no idea who we’d end up meeting and how wonderful and unique their stories would be. (Read about and see dog videos in this post on Dogster.) Cat parent or dog parent, there has been a universal theme of unconditional love among everyone to whom I spoke. People couldn’t stop themselves from smiling when I’d ask them to send over personal photos and videos — the more, the better. Throughout the past few months, I’ve receive emails to Dropbox links full of photos accompanied by funny anecdotes.

Here’s my Sidekick episode, starring me and B.K.:

While I can honestly say the project has been a lot of work, it has been filled with joy and love. My hope is that the happy success stories we feature will drown out the misinformed idea that the only way to get a good pet is buying from a breeder or pet store. If we can convince a few people to adopt — not shop for — their next pets, I’ll consider the series a success.

In the coming months, we’ll be asking for your stories to help support the ones we’re telling. We want to hear about your cat’s adoption and backstory, and we want you to follow and share the stories we’re telling with your friends. We can’t do it without your support, so we hope you’ll watch, subscribe and share! Check our website for a full episode schedule, subscribe to our channel on YouTube for new episodes, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Read stories of rescue on Catster:

Emily is a NYC based director and editor. She lives in Manhattan with her cat B.K. When she’s not making videos she loves watching tennis with her boyfriend Jon, drinking good coffee and populating her Instagram feed with new B.K. pictures.

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