For the last 13 years, the Puppy Bowl has aired on Animal Planet on Super Bowl Sunday, just hours before the Super Bowl kicks off. For the last five years, AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport in DeSoto has held a watch party to celebrate the fact that their puppies were selected to participate.

The watch party, which was held at Hyatt Place West Des Moines/Jordan Creek this year, also helps to raise funds to cover the costs of the trip to New York, where the Puppy Bowl was filmed in October, 2016 for this year’s broadcast. There was a $10 cover charge at the door and all supporters of the shelter were invited to attend.

“It’s just a fun time, because we’re always doing something so serious,” said Amy Heinz, owner of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport.

During the watch party, they had an auction, sold their merchandise, including t-shirts, sweatshirts and more, all while projecting the Puppy Bowl onto the big screen for attendees to watch.

“Hopefully we just make some money and cover our trip so we can have fun,” Heinz said.

Heinz said that in the five years they have held the event, they usually cover the trip, but it’s not a big fundraiser for other operations of the rescue.

She said that there has been a big rise in the amount of adoptions they have each year since they started being selected for the Puppy Bowl.

“The media attention, the national attention that we get from being in the show is worth so much more,” Heinz said. “We’ve gone from doing 300 adoptions a year, when we first were in the Puppy Bowl, to doing a thousand adoptions a year. It’s made our little tiny rescue from DeSoto huge and well-known.”

When they go to the Puppy Bowl each year, they drive to New York because they don’t want to put the dogs on planes to fly them out there. This year they had four puppies to drive up to New York, compared to seven that were selected last year.

Heinz said that one year, AHeinz57 had the star of the show and the puppy got to go to the White House and play with the President’s dogs.

To help on the trip, AHeinz57 selects a few volunteers that get to go with.

“Then it’s a long day filming,” Heinz said. “We get there about 7 a.m. and we leave about 6 p.m. and then we drive back the next day.”

One of the dogs that was selected, Laila, was on a leash and moving about the crowd during the watch party. Heinz called Laila their star of the show.

“Out of the four, she was the one that did the most on the field,” Heinz said. “Like, two of our dogs did basically nothing on the field. One, she didn’t like grass, even AstroTurf.”

Laila was even at the beginning of one of the commercials for the Puppy Bowl while Bismark, one of their hounds, was at the end of the commercial. Heinz also said that Laila was in People Magazine twice in the last month.

“She was quite the little star,” Heinz said.