Tommy Habeeb comes on to talk about his new show, To The Rescue, a heartwarming series about rescue dogs.
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Tommy Habeeb – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: hello. There’s a spoiler our country today on the show, we had the fantastic guests, Mr. Tommy Habeeb. How’s it. How’s it going, Tommy?
Tommy Hebeeb: I’m good. Jeff, thanks so much for having me on.
Jeff: Definitely. It’s definitely my pleasure. when I heard about your show to the rescue, I knew you’re a definitely guest I wanted to talk to.
it’s a fantastic show. I found it very moving. I, the stories are definitely very heartfelt and I’m very glad to have the opportunity to speak with you. so for the, for our listeners, can you give them basically a. your pitch for what the show is.
Tommy Hebeeb: Sure. Happy to, you know, the, to the rescue. So many people think of it before they see it and go, Oh, it’s a nice kids show about dogs, right?
Saving dogs when we’re really not a kid show. And we have this debate with the TV [00:01:00] stations until they watch the show and then they kind of start to realize set in, okay, really? This isn’t a, an educational television show for kids. It’s a family show. We, we really drilled down into the content and the humanity of, people and.
These dogs that they rescue. So, so it really, the exciting thing about this show is it opens up family conversations about life really is what it is, what it is.
Jeff: So you’re, you’re the host of the show. How did the idea for it come about and how did you get involved with it?
Tommy Hebeeb: Yeah. So I’ve been in the kind of rescue world for a while.
Really from a superficial. I want to tell you, I mean, I, I love to say I was out there rescuing dogs, [00:02:00] sorry, on a daily basis. but as an actor in Los Angeles, for so many years, I had the wonderful opportunity. I I’m an animal lover. and I had the wonderful opportunity to I’m so sorry. No worries. overcame COVID so I finally get my lungs strong.
Jeff: my God. Thank you everybody. Thank you.
Tommy Hebeeb: Bye bye. I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the SPCA LA. They asked me if I would host their telethon with Betty White and it was a really, An eyeopening experience. And so I was part, been part of the SPCA LA for 25 years and, really learned about the rescue world.
So in doing, you know, I I’ve had so many television shows that I’ve been working on over the years. And at this point in my career, it was just timing and the timing was right. And a friend of [00:03:00] mine. Played in the NFL and his wife did rescue and we were having dinner one night and they’re telling me these rescue stories.
And I said, it’s time. It’s really time that we do a show about this. It’s very important. America is, is just coming apart at the seams and, we need to do something and I want to. I want to tell these stories. So that’s how it came about.
Jeff: One thing I love about the show was that it really is a show about heart and also about hurt because what you do is you, the show connects dogs who have been neglected sometimes abused whenever, and connects them with people who are also in need sometimes suffering from PTSD or other elements.
And you really do bring these two beings that both need. This extra attention is extra help and you bring them together, in a very beautiful way. So how do these individuals and dogs first get, come to your attention?
[00:04:00] Tommy Hebeeb: So we have a whole process and we feature, we find, you know, from all over the country, actually all over the world, we find these amazing stories of, of, rescue.
And people. And so, you know, literally, I have to tell you, people from all over the world has, have come to us. We, we did a little casting process and the community is very small and people talk. And so it, it spread like wildfire all over and, and people really saw what we’re doing. That we are a show.
we’re not exploiting anything. It’s about human beings and dogs and how they come together, you know, from these very difficult situations. And that’s why I also [00:05:00] said we’re not a kid show. We’re a family show because it, it is important and it opens up conversation. But to answer your question, Really it, it, we put out some feelers, I did a little press and, and then just thousands of people have, have emailed us, gone onto our Facebook and sent me stories.
I, you know, on my Facebook, we, I get hundreds and hundreds of stories every week. And on the, to the rescue, Facebook and website. People just come on and tell me their stories. And, and so we have, I’ve got some great story producers and they call through all of these different stories and we’d love to tell them all because there’s so many heart-wrenching stories.
And so we can only do so many on the show. And we do a lot, but what we are offering is on our social media, we’re taking these stories that may not make the show [00:06:00] and go, I’m so sorry, going in depth with them. and, and social media and on our website. And we’re right now creating this, these, this web presence.
That, you’ll be able to see so many other stories and that we’re going to share with, with the country, with the world really, on our website and through our social media, because there’s thousands of these heart wrenching, wonderful love stories about these dogs that literally. Or on death’s door.
Right. And then the human human beings that bring them together.
Jeff: And you know what, and I think the title of your show to the rescue. Perfect. perfectly encapsulates the purpose of the show and because I thought of to, to the rescue, I think you’re, you know, you’re, you’re rescuing the people. the, the humans, obviously you’re rescuing the dogs by giving them a good home.
And as part of me that also kind of felt like you’re rescuing the audience because in such a rough time, because it’s, you know, with COVID and all the stress and [00:07:00] everything. This watch a show that is so heartfelt. I feel like it’s a relief for the audience as well.
Tommy Hebeeb: So yeah. Yeah, Jeff, you know, and, and that’s the Cod the most inspiring thing for me are the letters I get and people just saying, thank you.
I needed this today. so you know, we are across the country and we’re growing and more and more markets. You know, we, we have a huge swath of the country covered. I think 80% of the country and every day we’re picking up more stations. And, and I, I just, I’m so proud of this project. And because I hear from so many people just saying, I, I, I needed to smile today and that many of them go out and, you know, I cried happy.
Right. And, and yes, we need. We need something uplifting in these trying times,
Jeff: is, is there a particular, letter that you kind of hold [00:08:00] up as being the most memorable, but that you think about,
Tommy Hebeeb: wow, there’s so many, you know, I should carve out a couple and I should share them and I, and you gave me a great idea.
Thank you, Jeff. And I’m gonna, I’m going to tag you with. With giving me that idea, but we should share more of these, these great stories that people that have seen the show and, and have come to us and thanked us. And, you know, because I, you know, when I started down this path, I didn’t realize exactly what, you know, I knew I wanted to tell these stories, but I didn’t realize how impactful it was going to be.
Now, not only on our viewers. But on me, you know, it’s changed me tremendously because you know, on my other show like cheaters, right? People, people go, how can you do this show? And I’d see, you know, that’s what [00:09:00] it is. And they laugh and they. Yeah, everybody gets whatever it is, they get out of it. But if you are living it, when people come to me and say, I’m in trouble, I need to know the truth.
My life is in shambles. You know, I gave them my heart and soul and give them the truth about their loved one. Right. And that’s what it’s always been about for me. And so this show carries that same torch, but people look at it differently. You know, if you, most people just look at cheaters and. Is this crazy exploitative show on, on, people cheating, but really it’s about, it’s about humanity as well as this show, this show though, people, people get it right away.
And so I’m really, really proud of that. and, and in what we’re doing, and I just want to keep expanding on it. I just did an interview on Friday with a. With a woman that was, you know, [00:10:00] convicted a convicted murderer. And she’s now out of prison and spent many, many, many years in prison. And, she was involved in one of the few dog programs in prison, but it was amazing the hours I interviewed her.
I mean, I. You know, we both cried through the thing and I, I didn’t know what I was going to get. I didn’t know what this person’s life was going to be like. And I didn’t want to, to, you know, I don’t want to get political and say, That you know what she did? Yes. She murdered someone. It was horrible, horrible.
but I wanted to tell the story and I didn’t know, even going into the interview, how I was going to handle it. Right. I just knew I wanted to, I wanted to give this woman a chance to tell her story and then let the public. Get out of it, what they got out of it. Right. [00:11:00] And so, but what we came to find out and which I was, you know, obviously taking a life as, as bad as it gets, but, and there’s nothing she can say to the victim, his family, it’s nothing, but the only thing that I could.
Positive get out of this is that she worked with dogs for the last five years of her symptoms and training. And then when she did get paroled and she ended up living and adopting the last dog, right. That she trained and. The woman, the transformation of the woman and going from being a tough woman to get through prison and to actually do what she did, to watching the change in her, working with these dogs and then getting out of prison and the [00:12:00] only, the redeeming part of it.
And I don’t know if she should still be in prison or what, but the redeeming part out of it is that she no longer does things for herself. She’s she through dogs and training and giving to something right. Giving love to something and training. She now learned that. She’s devoted her life. It was to, to animals now it’s to the homeless.
And so every day she’s on the streets trying to help these people with mental health and to give them a better way. Right. So it was fascinating and I, I’m not judging either way. I do have my own thoughts and I, you know, Murder is as bad as it gets. but here’s a woman that now has given her life to helping other people.
[00:13:00] And, and it happened because the, the unconditional love of a dog and her having to do this, all of a sudden transform this, this unbelievably hard, horrible person and through to being a human being for good. Not that I’m not saying yes, she should have been out of prison doing this. But as a result of her, it wasn’t my choice taking her out of prison.
But as a result of this and what dogs had done to help her, she’s now devoted her life to helping other humans. I mean, I mean,
Jeff: I really love stories like that and I think it’s great that it not only are you, it sounds like you’re transforming. The lives of the people you’re helping, but it kind of sounds like almost like you’re being transformed by it as well that you’re growing even larger empathy and idea of what these greater range of people are going through yourself.
Are you, are you finding that you’re getting a greater knowledge and understanding [00:14:00] of humanity? The more you’re doing this show?
Tommy Hebeeb: Oh my gosh. There’s no question. it’s changed my life tremendously and, and the people I work with every day. and the cases and, you know, when I, in the letters I get, you know, how can that not change you?
you know, not to change subject, but you know, I’ve been working for two years with Mariel Hemingway on a new show we’re doing on teen suicide. And, These, these two worlds, these two shows, or either going to it’s the toughest things I’ve ever done. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s gonna put me in an early grave or, it’s you know, but it’s changing me forever and, and I hope, I hope and pray that I’m bringing that.
[00:15:00] To the audience. Right. I hope that people at home are getting feeling that right. And you’ve seen the show now. And so the letters I’ve gotten from people, I don’t know, but they said, listen, I, you know, I’m a, I’m a grown man, a grown woman, and I couldn’t stop crying through this thing. And those being able to.
Do you touch people, right? And those important ways, and it’s not crying bad tears, it’s crying, happy tears. You know, the goal was, was to tell the Rocky story to make it real simple for you to take these. These dogs and these humans that nobody cares about, right. They have no life. And then, you know, you watch them changing and you start rooting for them.
And then, then all of a sudden they’re on top of the world and you’re crying for them. Right. It’s a. It’s it’s pretty cool. And if you break it down to those simple, [00:16:00] simple terms, watching, watching that Caterpillar turn into a butterfly right in front of your eyes,
Jeff: it does sound like that. You also keep tabs on these people that you’re helping and the dogs and making sure everything is working out well.
Is that correct?
Tommy Hebeeb: How can I not, I’m emotionally attached to these. These are our family. And that’s the hardest thing. And I, you know, as I tell my staff, I said, one thing we will never do is forget these people. And, and I want they’re part of our family now. And it’s important that, I make sure that we’re touching them in some way, be, you know, we’re doing hundreds.
So, so it’s, it’s a big lift and it’s gonna keep being a big lift, but I think it is so important that we don’t lose touch and that, That they understand that, you know, I need it for me. [00:17:00] I need to know they’re okay. Right. I need that hug. I made that one now. Sorry to get sappy.
Jeff: Oh, trust me. I, for the job that you do it, it seems only natural.
but then you would need to, from time to time, I also, for our listeners, you’re also the founder of a dog rescue group called the forever family rescue foundation. what can our listeners do to help you in that foundation and also help you with the show and the dogs are taken care of? Is there anything we can do to help you?
Tommy Hebeeb: Oh my gosh. You know, it’s, what’s so important. And I started the foundation because on the show we can only touch so many. And feature so many and help so many dogs and people. the goal for the foundation truly is to take as many dogs as we can off death row that are in kill shelters. And that, that aren’t going to have a chance.
And my dear friend, Kathy Bissell in Michigan [00:18:00] from the Bissell vacuum family, and they have. A fabulous foundation and she’s worked so hard to wipe out, kill shelters in Michigan, and she’s done it. There are no more killing shelters. And so my goal with our foundation is to do the same thing, but are across the country.
So we’re asking people to. To join our calls and to help with what they can donation wise, because what we’re doing is we’re going across the country and we are taking dogs from kill shelters and we’re matching them with first responders, police, officers, firefighters. And we are saying, if you will foster this dog, That is going to be euthanized tomorrow.
We’ll pay for everything, no expense. You, we pay for all the food, all the healthcare, whatever it takes, we give you the, to the rescue starter kit, right. Get through it. [00:19:00] And, and it, it gives that dog a chance, but more important. These first responders that are in really crisis situations every day, and that are.
Going through. I mean, I can’t even imagine I’ve done ride alongs and it is the scariest thing ever. So I couldn’t do it, but when they have to come home at night, right. And they have all this burden from the day on their chest, I want them to feel that unconditional love of a dog running up to them and just give, loving them up.
Right. And it is, it’s the greatest feeling ever. So I tell these guys. Give it a try foster, a dog, adopt them. Then if you can or not, or just foster and we’ll pay for everything. And then we’d give them a phone with a camera and we go, just document this, this, this [00:20:00] love Fest time, right. Of what, what it’s alike.
And those were, we’re creating these other little wonderful first responders stories. So that’s what we’re using the money for. Primarily.
Jeff: So, what website can our listeners find to don’t actually donate to what’s the name of the website?
Tommy Hebeeb: Well, they can go to the rescue tv.com, which is really simple.
And there’s a button on there to take you to the forever family rescue foundation. Now it’s also the forever family rescue foundation.org. It’s forever family rescue.org. We’ll take you straight to our foundation or you’d come to the show website. and there’s a button that takes you to the foundation.
You can join the team. You know, we appreciate anything for, you know, $10 a month, right. Saves dogs and saves people. So if you think about, and that’s what I was kept harping on, that we aren’t just a dog show [00:21:00] because what we’re trying to do with these first responders or, or save. These heroes are heroes and that have a difficult time because if you know, I’ve spoken to so many of them and, and it’s, it is a tough, tough job.
And if we can give them something right, and give these dogs something it’s pretty special.
Jeff: So where can our viewers find to the rescue is? And is it on any streaming service as well? For those who may not be in a particular on market?
Tommy Hebeeb: Well, it’s not on a streaming service, but if you do, if it’s not in your market, if you go to, to the rescue tv.com, Google that your Google me you’ll, you’ll be able to find it and the show, the website and that weekends show, cause it’s on Saturday and Sundays, you can also stream it off our website.
And then Monday it goes away. [00:22:00] But, if it’s not in your market now hang on because we’re clearing markets every day more and more. So there’s not very many more that we’re not in, but so sorry.
Jeff: No worries, sir.
Tommy Hebeeb: we’ll be in your market or call your local ABC NBC CBS affiliate and say, listen. We want this show if it’s not there, but also you can see the cities we’re in, on our website.
So yeah, I would appreciate it. Any help you can do, even if it’s a dollar, whatever, to, to help our foundation, with its mission. And it’s so important, I believe what we’re doing for not only saving the dogs, getting them out of these kill shelters. But then also saving the people that are helping us save the dogs.
Jeff: Well, that’s fantastic. Like I said, to the rescue is a phenomenal show, late, episodes. I was able to watch there were, were great. And I do hope our listeners find to the [00:23:00] rescue on your website and also hopefully they’re in your markets as well. And, I highly recommend it. Thank you so much, Mr. Habe, taught me how to be.
I greatly appreciate it.
Tommy Hebeeb: Well, Jeff, thanks for having me. I appreciate you letting me tell our story and, get a little emotional William. but I just have to tell your listeners, if you, if you have a chance record it, DVR it, it will, I think it’ll inspire you in these tough times.
Jeff: That’s I, I really do think so as well.