ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Pet Connection started at WTEN 25 years ago, but the idea started when NEWS10ABC Chief Meteorologist Steve Caporizzo was a child.
“I can remember growing up as a kid my mom was my inspiration. She always said we have to be the voices for those that don’t have voices,” said Caporizzo. “I remember my mother at the end of the month emptying her pocketbook on the table she be counting her change.”
“One day I saw her count a dollar and take a dollar bill out of her wallet and send it to the shelter,” he added.
Caporizzo got his first break in television in Bangor, Maine in 1983. It was then he started thinking about having a segment for homeless pets. “When I started in television I thought boy if I can just show a dog or a cat on a tv camera to everybody at home maybe that pet would be adopted.”
It was a thought that was quickly put to action. When Caporizzo moved to WWLP-TV in Springfield, Massachusetts, he started a segment called “Pet Corner.” Once a week he featured a pet from the Springfield SPCA and try to find them a home. It worked.
Then, Caporizzo moved to the Capital Region. “After doing Pet Corner for so many years in Massachusetts,” said Caporizzo. “I wanted to keep doing it in Albany but they had no idea what it was all about and I said come on guys let me do it. People like looking at pets and want to help. After 6 months of constantly asking they said “let’s give it a try.”
Soon after, Pet Connection was born. “And the first pet we ever had on was July 2, 1990. A little 4 month old shepherd mix named Princess from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Dociety, a sweet little thing that loved to give you kisses. That will go down in my memory as one of the best parts of my career here.”
Over the years, Pet Connection grew to become very popular. Thousands of pets came to the TV station with hopes of finding a new home. Some of those pets left indelible marks on Steve. “There’s been a few over the years that you never forget. There was a cat named Boo Boo, and Boo Boo was a disabled cat.”
He adds, “Three, four years go by and I always wondered what happened to Boo Boo the cat. I found out who adopted Boo Boo and went to her house. It was an older lady in Washington County. And I remembered knocking on her door and she was all excited. I said ‘I’m here to see Boo and see how you guys are doing.’ She gave me a big hug. She said ‘Steve you don’t know what that cat has done for me.’ I’m getting goose pimples just thinking about it because I’ll never forget it. She had tears in her eyes. She goes, ‘when I adopted Boo, I always thought that Boo needed me. Little did I know at the time my husband was sick and passed away, I needed Boo to keep me going.”
Steve Caporizzo may be the face of Pet Connection, but he admits, he’s a small cog in a large wheel. “I was so fortunate to meet so many great people that have done amazing things with rescue and shelters. I’m a small part of that. They’re the true heroes they are in the trenches every single day.”
And the people of the Capital Region responded. “There was something about the people here that want to help and when it came to pets it was amazing.”
He adds, did I think 25 years ago it would be where it is today absolutely not. When I think of all the fund raising that we do all the adoptions we do and all the pets, the thousands and thousands of pets we’ve had on tv over the years could I have ever imagined, absolutely not. Am I surprised, absolutely not.”