Benji and the American Humane Association “bond,” making Benji the emotional “face” for pet adoption from animal shelters.

DANA POINT, CA USA 02/11/2002 – The New Benji to Become the Emotional Face and Motivational Force of American Humane Association Outreach Programs in Schools and Pet Adoption Programs -DANA POINT, Calif., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Benji Creator, Joe Camp, Mulberry Square Productions and the American Humane Association (AHA), today announce that they have partnered in an unprecedented national effort for Benji to become the “emotional face” and motivational force of AHA’s outreach programs in schools, pet adoptions programs, and foster-parenting efforts. Under the agreement, the new Benji is to be the symbol of AHA’s programs to help animals in shelters find homes and raise awareness of responsible pet ownership. (Photo) According to the AHA, between three and five million pets die in shelters every year because awareness of shelters as a resource and of shelter animals as potentially wonderful pets, is very low. Fewer than 20% of all animals entering homes for the first time come from shelters. And most shelters and rescue organizations do not have resources to promote such recognition. In an effort to reverse these statistics, Joe Camp, Benji and AHA will be working together to build awareness of how wonderful shelter pet adoption can be for children, families and the pets themselves. Both Camp and AHA point to the recent search for the new Benji as an example of how homeless animals make great pets. On September 28, 2001, the floppy-eared mutt who was to become the new Benji was on the back streets of Pass Christian, Mississippi, lost and alone, with no tag or collar, abandoned. This homeless stray was picked up by Harrison County Animal Control and brought to the Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, from where she was adopted by Camp on November 15 as one of three finalists in a national shelter search. She rose to the challenge and three weeks later became the new Benji. “Can you believe that someone abandoned these eyes,” says Camp, peering into the new star’s face. “I can’t.” The new Benji is believed to be less than a year old. Camp’s search for a new Benji in animal shelters across America was initiated because The American Humane Association had reported that the original Benji being rescued from an animal shelter caused more than one million dogs to be adopted around the country. Joe Camp wanted this to happen again. He wanted the new Benji to be a dog rescued from a shelter. “Mission accomplished,” says Camp. “Now every time someone looks into the new Benji’s face they will see the kind of loving, caring companion they too can find at their local animal shelter. And this time around,” Camp adds, “we’re going for way more than a million adoptions.” “AHA and Benji are now embarked on a mission to let people know the best place to find a family pet is your local animal shelter,” said Bob Roth, AHA Vice-President of Public Programs and Marketing. “We know the most effective way to increase pet adoptions is to tell the very emotional story not only of homeless animals, but of those animals that have found loving homes. We believe Benji can help us tell this story. It’s a one plus one equals three situation. “Both Camp and Roth say that the scope and nature of the programs will bean opportunity to involve corporate America in saving lives of both animals and children. Discussions with sponsors are already underway and announcements are expected early in 2002.”Through a variety of programs, projects, and services, AHA is going to actually take people to the shelter through Benji’s adventures and connect folks emotionally to all the adoptable pets, waiting and hoping for loving homes, nation-wide. Our message will be that millions of dogs and cats in shelters would make great family members, just like Benji. They are the best ‘animal buddies’ any family could have. Benji’s shelter animal counterparts, both dogs and cats, come in all colors, sizes, shapes, temperaments, breeds, mixed breeds and ages and they all have the potential to bring great joy to families and individuals everywhere,” Roth concluded. Since the shelter search for the new Benji began on August 12th, Camp’s campaign for pet adoption has reached no less than 80 million people, appearing on network television plus over 150 network affiliate local television stations, and radio stations and newspapers all across the country. The story has appeared on ABC’s Primetime Thursday, Good Morning America(twice), CNN, AP wire news, Copley News Service, Entertainment Weekly Daily News, E! Entertainment and has been covered by syndicated radio shows such as Radio Disney, Westwood One, Pet Talk America and Animal Planet. About the American Humane Association Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association (AHA) is the nation’s only national organization dedicated to child and animal protection. From its headquarters outside Denver, Colorado, and from regional offices in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, AHA provides national leadership in the development of programs, policies, and services on behalf of children and animals who are abused and neglected. The mission of the American Humane Association, as a network of individuals and organizations, is to prevent cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and animals and to assure that their interest and well-being are fully and humanely guaranteed by an aware and caring society, For more information, please visit the website at or contact Julia Hutton, Public Relations for American Humane Association, (480) 460-2126.About Benji and Creator/Producer Joe Camp Joe Camp, Benji’s creator and writer/director of all Benji movies is on a mission with the new Benji to make a positive difference in the lives of kids and animals. Love, hope, and the value of persistence toward a goal are at the heart and soul of every Benji story. These emotionally involving family classics offer entertainment that is happy, sad, and full of suspense, and are legendary around the world with kids and parents. More than 71,000,000 people have watched Benji movies in theaters, over half of them adults. All Benji movies grossed within the top 10% of box-office grosses for their year of release, and more than one billion people have watched Benji movies and programs on television. Two of the twenty-one titles in Benji’s Video Library have been awarded platinum, two are golden, and all have been digitized, re-mastered with full stereo tracks, andre-released this fall. Two of Benji’s primetime specials were nominated for Emmys. The new Benji began training in January, 2002, for the starring role in Camp’s upcoming film, Benji Returns — The Promise of Christmas. For more information about Benji, please visit the web site at or call Julia Hutton, Public Relations for Benji (480) 460-2126or Angela McNeill at 800-530-7947.

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