"A lot of people have come in during the last year and said, 'I want a dog just like Fumble,'" she said, referring to spcaLA's player entry in "Puppy Bowl VIII" who earned the game's Most Valuable Pup crown.
About 300 puppies and kittens have been featured on "Puppy Bowl" over the last decade, according to Petfinder.com, the country's largest online pet adoption database that helps cast the show's animal stars.
"Shelters and rescues are at capacity, and pet adoption is the responsible way to add to your family," said Sara Kent, who oversees outreach to the 14,000 shelters and rescues that Petfinder works with.
The inaugural "Puppy Bowl," which was promoted as an alternative to the Super Bowl, had 22 puppies and was watched by nearly 6 million viewers. Nearly 9 million tuned in last year and another 1.4 million watched via video streams, Toporoff said. "Puppy Bowl IX" will feature 84 animals, including 21 kittens from a New York shelter for the halftime show, and 63 puppies from 23 shelters.
Only four of the puppies have yet to find new homes, Toporoff said. They include Tyson, Daphne and Sacha — three pit bull mixes from the Pitter Patter Animal Rescue in Silver Lake, Wis., — and Jenny, a terrier mix from the Pitty Love Rescue in Rochester, N.Y.
"I don't know if there's any bigger forum for getting something out on adoption. We make sure the message gets out there. We make clear that these dogs need homes and that all animals have come to us during the adoption process," Toporoff said.
Fumble, last year's MVP winner, was adopted before the show aired. Michael Wright, of New York, said he found out about Fumble's participation toward the end of the adoption process. He planned to watch this year's show to catch any flashbacks of last year's MVP playing his heart out.