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Iowa rescues featured in Puppy Bowl XVIII

Puppy Bowl XVIII cheerleader Judy Love is available for adoption from AHeinz57 in DeSoto.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Whether you're rooting for the Rams or Bengals on Super Bowl Sunday, you won't want to miss cheering on Iowa's cutest athletes in their big game—the Puppy Bowl.

A group of rescue pups from AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue and Transport will be among the members of Team Ruff and Team Fluff Sunday.

A surprise invitation has turned into a 10-year tradition for Amy Heinz, the shelter's founder and CEO.

"It was just kind of a fluke," Heinz said.

Since the puppy bowl is recorded far in advance of the show, most of the pups you'll see Sunday will have already been adopted. But this year, there's an exception: Judy Love.

"She's a cheerleader in this year's show," Heinz said.

Judy's litter came from a shelter in Oklahoma.

"They were about four weeks old and they never would have lived had they stayed in that shelter," Heinz said. "But she's a great dog now, she can sit, she can paw. She's just a smart little girl and she's a TV star."

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So whether you're considering adding a furry friend to your family or you're just there for the adorable faces, you're making a difference for shelters like AHeinz just by tuning in.

"Just being on Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl really has helped save thousands and thousands of lives," Heinz said.

You can meet Judy Love and the four other local Puppy Bowl contenders in person this Sunday at a watch party and fundraiser at Miss Kitty's in Clive. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m.

RELATED: Mama dog at Minnesota animal rescue 'adopts' orphaned puppies

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