May 29, 2024

This article first appeared as part of Jenelle Riley’s Acting Up newsletter – to subscribe for early content and weekly updates on all things acting, visit the Acting Up signup page.

For all her work on stage and screen, Kristen Bell might best be known as the woman who cried over a sloth. Back in 2012, the actor went viral with a video shot by her husband, Dax Shepard isn’t even seen interacting with the sloth – in the video it’s just the anticipation of knowing it’s there causes her to practically hyperventilate with euphoria.

It was a moment Wallis Annenberg PetSpace’s Catie Voglio could relate to all too well. “I first saw the video of Kristin Bell’s reaction to the sloth, and I just knew that feeling of loving something so much, it almost hurts you,” she says.

So, when Voglio was working with a podcast team to launch the PetSpace Podcast, Bell was one of the dream guests on the top of her list. It certainly helped that Bell had previously visited and worked with Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, where Voglio serves as the manager of PetSpace Corporate Partnerships & Brand Strategy.

In fact, the Podcast is produced on-site at Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, a pet adoption center which transfers in animals from overcrowded Los Angeles shelters, and makes them available for animal lovers seeking to take a pet home for keeps.

Wallis Annenberg PetSpace probably isn’t what you envision when you think of an animal rescue center. Located in L.A.’s Playa Vista neighborhood, the building is big and bright and cheery. Displayed next to each adoptable pet is an interactive touch screen to learn more about their specific needs and history. PetSpace is the brainchild of Los Angeles philanthropist Wallis Annenberg who wanted to create a destination focusing on the human-animal bond – something she firmly believes makes the world a better place. Annenberg also wanted a place where homeless pets could receive the treatment and care they need and a barrier free adoption process that allows animals to quickly find the homes they so deserve. There is also a community space where people can gather and – best of all – bring their pets. The space hosts events like “Yappy Hours”, seminars and learning opportunities with industry experts, musical performances and this very Friday, Sept. 29, a Stand Up for Pups Comedy Show.

That warm and inviting feeling is something that also comes through in the PetSpace Podcast, which launched on Sept. 19 with Bell as its inaugural guest. Hosted by Voglio, and produced by Cameron Kell and audio engineer, Roger Gomez. The bi-weekly podcast features celebrity guests and animal experts discussing the indescribable bond between humans and their pets. It also serves as a great chance to amplify the work done at PetSpace. “A lot of times, animal welfare can be unapproachable,” admits Voglio. “People think of it as too sad or too scary, so we were trying to find a way to expand on what happens at PetSpace but also bring in personal stories about guest’s pets.” That’s exactly what Wallis Annenberg had in mind when she envisioned what PetSpace would be; an open and transparent center for people and pets.

When it comes to animals, many celebrities really are – as the saying goes – just like us and can talk ad nauseum about their furry friends. Voglio notes, “We wanted to stay away from the uncomfortable side of things and really talk about personal stories.” Bell, for example, talks about her long history of fostering pets; something that began when she was 11 years old and continues to this day – despite the fact her husband has mild allergies. Still, many of the episodes strike a good balance of being both fun and informative.

Upcoming guests on the PetSpace podcast include Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation, who spent years studying the infamous Los Angeles mountain lion P-22, and “Puppy Songs” creator Matt Hobbs, whose unbelievably catchy songs about dogs have gone viral. Also, on the lineup is Dr. Kwane Stewart, who founded Project Street Vet, which provides free veterinary care to pet owners experiencing homelessness.

Of course, the Pet Space podcast team has dream guests in mind going forward – high atop the list are well-known animal lovers Chelsea Handler and Chris Evans.

While the PetSpace Podcast is available wherever you download and listen to podcasts, you can also learn more by visiting www.annenbergpetspace.org.

Even if you’re not looking to adopt right now, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is always seeking foster homes, volunteers to walk dogs, help with laundry or even to help at events. For now, be sure to listen to the PetSpace podcast or visit the space to find your next adoptable pet.

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