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Animal Trainers Know the Value of Shelter Pets; Do You?

By Linda Cole

When it comes to finding animal stars among the masses, Hollywood producers and animal trainers know talent when they see it. They understand the value of a good pet, and search the shelters to find the next pet star waiting to be discovered. Broadway producers also scour animal shelters when searching for the perfect pet to cast in a Broadway show. Just what kind of pets can you find in shelters? Some of the most talented, well behaved and smartest pets around.

I previously wrote an article on famous TV and movie pets adopted from shelters and trained for their specific roles. Many of the most recognized and loved pets on TV or in the movies did time in a shelter. Some of these famous pets were just hours away from being put down when they were discovered. I think it's safe to say that the performance a Black Mouth Cur named Spike gave us in “Old Yeller” made us all a little teary eyed. Spike was found in a California animal shelter. Morris the orange Tabby was found in a shelter in the nick of time, and became famous as the finicky feline in TV commercials. Higgins, the lovable and talented mutt that starred on “Petticoat Junction” and known as “Dog” from 1963-1970, went on to delight children in one of his other famous roles as Benji. He was found at a shelter in Burbank, California.

A two year old Terrier mix named Sunny is one of Broadway's newest stars. She will be playing the role of Sandy in a remake of the musical “Annie,” due to open later this fall. Sunny was rescued from a Houston, Texas kill shelter and was on their list to be put down when her picture was spotted online by animal trainer William Berloni. He prefers searching for animal talent in shelters because, “The most talented animals are right there under your nose. The message is: Animals in shelters are not damaged, just unfortunate,” Berloni said to the Associated Press in a July 2012 interview. He continued “I always say anybody could have gone into a shelter and adopted any one of the animals that I've turned into Broadway stars the day before I did. And they would have been great dogs in someone's home.”

Shelter pets come in all sizes, ages and personalities. You can find puppies, kittens, older pets, purebreds and mixed breeds. Many dogs came from loving homes and ended up in a shelter not because they were bad or had behavior issues, but because their owner for some reason had to give them up. The pets you find in shelters are smart, talented, loyal, loving, and waiting for the right person to come along. Most shelter dogs are housebroken, especially older pets. Many dogs have already been given some basic training and are well balanced, stable pets. And the unconditional love a pet gives us is priceless.

With millions of dogs and cats in animal shelters, someone wanting to adopt can find their perfect pet. We all have our own reasons for why a dog or cat stands out to us. Maybe it's their voice that gets our attention. They could be the cutest one you've ever seen. It might be a paw reaching out to touch your arm as you walk by a cage. It could be the quiet one hiding in the back away from the others, or the scared, depressed looking one that breaks your heart. A shelter pet might remind you of a childhood dog or cat that taught you about trust and how to love others unconditionally. Some people just have a feeling and know the minute their eyes meet a special pet. Sometimes, the pet picks us. You may get tired of hearing this phrase, but it's true: adopting from a shelter really does save a life.

Animal trainers have known for years that the best place to find a stable and well adjusted pet is in a shelter. If it hadn't been for a trainer seeing something special in a dog or cat, we would never have known the wonderful “animal actors” in our favorite movies. Even pets are like their fellow human stars – they were born to play a particular role because of their special talent and personality.

When it comes to finding the right dog or cat for your lifestyle, a shelter is the perfect place to begin your search. Shelter staff can also help you decide which pet would be the best fit for you and your family. You never know when you enter the door of your local shelter; the perfect pet may be waiting for you inside!

Shelter cat photo by Mendocino Animal Care

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