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Pet owners weigh in on proposed reality show about overweight animals

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"The Biggest Loser" with pets?

Another reality show about weight loss may be on the horizon -- but with animals, not humans, shedding the pounds.

A recent casting call, posted on Craigslist, is seeking applicants for a potential show about pudgy puppies and cats. 

“IS YOUR PET OVERWEIGHT?," the ad asked. "You could be on a new reality show! Do you have a dog, cat or any other type of pet that's overweight, or even obese? Does your beloved family pet's weight make it hard for it to breathe, run or play? Are you concerned that your pet's weight might even cut its life short?”

The ad, also posted on a popular casting agency's website, doesn’t go into too much detail about the show. Neither the network nor the title of the show is disclosed in the posts.

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The application asks for the pet owner's name, phone number, email address, location, type of pet, age of pet, weight of pet, description of pet’s issue and, of course, “A photo of you and your pet.”

But that was enough to lure in many people seeking a chance to get their pets in shape -- and on TV. On the casting agency's Facebook page about 40 people "liked" or commented on the posted casting call, many chiming in with anecdotes about their own pets or tagging others who might want to apply.

Michelle Ruben of Indianapolis submitted a photo of Ike, one of her two cats, whom she described as “floppy and big.” 

Her vet told her that at 18½ pounds, Ike is six pounds overweight -- which didn't come as a shock.

“When someone sees Ike, they say, 'Oh my God, your cat is huge,'” Ruben said, who admitted Ike frequently snacks on waffles and other "people food."

Emily Adams said that the casting call was an opportunity to take her vet's advice about her dog: "Feed him less."

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Dennis, Adams' 9-year-old Chihuahua, weighs 9 pounds, slightly over normal weight. But then there’s Willow, her 12-year-old domestic shorthair cat, who is a whopping 19 pounds.

Adams, of El Monte, had consulted vets, done Internet research and taken tips from friends, and was no longer sure what to do to help Willow and Dennis shed some pounds.

But then she heard about an alternative with potential: a casting call.

“Selfishly, I did it to satiate my inferiority complex brought on by not being able to get a grasp on these animals' weight loss by myself,” Adams said.

Veterinarian Christine Maxis of Beavercreek, Ohio, said that she signed up her animals on a whim after receiving an “unsolicited email” about the casting call.

Maxis has four dogs but says it's her miniature Dachshund Fritzi who needs the most help getting in shape. At 15 pounds Fritzi is actually now the size of a standard Daschhund.

“When I was on vacation in January, he stayed at doggy spa and put on weight like I did when I was in Cancun,” she joked. “He’s got a little head on a big body.”

Walking Fritzi in frigid Ohio temperatures has gotten tough.

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“Dachshunds hate snow because their bellies are so low to the ground ... so we haven’t had the opportunity to exercise as much,” Maxis said.

Maxis said that as a vet she has seen her fair share of pudgy pets. She believes animals have gotten progressively fatter because of their diets. 

“Many overweight owners come in with overweight pets,” she said. “Some take offense. You have to choose your words carefully. You can’t say, 'Your pet is fat.' You have to use the words round, fluffy or just ask, 'How much is your pet eating a day?' ”

As far as the show goes, Maxis thinks it could be a potential hit. 

“Animals are always a success,” she said. “People are drawn to the pet industry.”

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saba.hamedy@latimes.com

Twitter: @saba_h

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