Movie mutts go from strays to stars in Hotel for Dogs, Marley & Me

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Pearl, from the movie Hotel for Dogs, was adopted by a crew member (photo from

Anyone who thinks you can’t get an A-list dog from a shelter or rescue group hasn’t been to the movies lately.

As Julia Szabo points out in her New York Post column, the star of the new movie Hotel for Dogs, a terrier named Cosmo, was surrendered by a family who couldn’t handle his high energy, and his double, J.R., was “discovered” at a Northern California animal shelter.

The movie also features a pair of rescued pit bulls (one of them a three-legged tripod), and as it turns out, the film’s producer insisted as much. Check out this great article on, which reports:

Movie producer Ewan Leslie is a devout pit bull lover who works with Karma Rescue
in Los Angeles. Says Leslie, “When we started working on the movie, I
told Mark Forbes, our head trainer from Birds and Animals, Unlimited,
that we had to have some pits in the movie.”

The article also says the cast and crew found homes for seven dogs, six of them pit bulls (three of those pits were adopted by crew members, including Pearl, a blue pit who’d been abandoned in a parking lot and who can now be seen on the movie’s poster. And as if that weren’t enough, the movie’s site,, even links to Petfinder!

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Rudy was also considered too high-energy by his owners.

But Hotel isn’t the only movie featuring rescued stars. According to PetPulse, 9-year-old Rudy, one of the 22 dogs to play the title character in Marley and Me is a rescue:

Rudy’s early life was far from glamorous. He was picked up by animal
control when he was about 16 months old and was a day away from being
put down when [his mom, Susan] Woolley agreed to foster him through Labrador Retriever
Rescue of Florida
. Rudy eventually found a home, but it turned out to
be temporary.

“They called and said he’s way too high energy for
us so we took him back,” Woolley said. “And he had actually gone to the
U.S.D.A. as well to be a working dog there and had a bad disk in his
back so at that point we decided we were going to keep him.”

Of course, turning rescued pets into stars of stage and screen is noting new — Petfinder pal Bill Berloni has been doing it his entire career. I just hope that the stories behind these movies get out so that people realize (1) you can get a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue group and (2) rescued dogs are not damaged goods — they’re stars waiting to be discovered!

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Using Beverly Hills Chihuahua to spread an adoption message