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Animal loving players and cheerleaders take part in "Road to the Puppy Bowl"

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Nov. 6, 2014) – For the past 10 years, the Puppy Bowl has been airing on Animal Planet during the Super Bowl and attracts millions of animal lovers worldwide. This year as a way to build the excitement, Animal Planet teamed with the New England Patriots as part of a "Road to the Puppy Bowl" event on Nov. 4.

As part of the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation weekly Celebrate Volunteerism focus on animals, Patriots players Danny Aiken, Stephen Gostkowski, Chris Jones, Michael Hoomanwanui and Chris White joined six Patriots cheerleaders for this special visit to the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts in Brockton.

As it turned out, the players were all animal lovers too.

Players and cheerleaders showed their support for Animal Planet's "Road to the Puppy Bowl," mingling with guests and animals at the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts on Nov. 4, 2014.

"We have a few animals at home, a couple dogs, we've got a pig and my wife also has a horse," said Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones. "We have a pit bull that we adopted way back at Michigan. We've had him for two years and he's been awesome. He's probably the best pet we've ever had."

The players and cheerleaders took the opportunity to interact with a variety of animals including rabbits, cats and dogs that were available for adoption. They also took the time to meet with and sign autographs for people in attendance.

"Animal Planet is incredibly proud to partner with two first-class organizations – the New England Patriots and the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts – on the Road to the Puppy Bowl program," said Rick Holzman, General Manager of Animal Planet. "The mission of the Puppy Bowl broadcast and these local events is to get the word out on the fantastic pets available for adoption. With help from the Patriots and Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, we were able to spread that message and help some wonderful animals find forever homes."

The event was open to the public and animal loving Patriots fans were encouraged to attend.

For Kim Heise, Shelter Director at the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, this event turned out to be a great success.

We were so thrilled to be able to participate in this event and welcome Animal Planet and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation to our shelter," said Heise. "Everyone, whether it was the players, cheerleaders or visitors, was clearly happy to be here, celebrating animals and the people that love them. The smiles on everyone's faces all night spoke volumes – and we had some very tired puppies and kitties!"

Ten animals were adopted during this event and more than 100 people visited the animal shelter to explore the possibility of taking on a new family member.

"The Road to the Puppy Bowl in New England was an all-star event that helped many Most Valuable Pets (MVPs) find their forever homes," said Matt Windsor, Road to the Puppy Bowl Referee. "The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and the Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts were fantastic partners that helped elevate the event to the next level and score a touchdown for pet adoptions."

The goal of this event was to increase awareness for animal adoption and that message was clear amongst the Patriots players.

"I think adopting a dog is probably the best route to go because you have dogs that are striving and wanting love so badly," said Jones. "My wife Angela and I definitely saw it firsthand with Oakley, who is our pit mix, and he's the best dog we've ever had. He's so good, so loyal and so loving that you just can't help but love him."

The Puppy Bowl will air on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015 on Animal Planet.

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