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From NM shelter to Disney star

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The cover of the Disney “twenty three” fan magazine features Monte, a dog from an NM shelter, and Rose, a cocker spaniel who is also a rescue. (Source: Disney)

It’s a real-life happy ending for a New Mexico mutt rescued from Las Cruces who went from shelter dog to movie star in the new “Lady and the Tramp” movie.

Monte, a 2-year-old terrier mix, plays Tramp in the live-action remake of the classic animated Disney film.

He looks amazingly like the beloved character Tramp, a scruffy stray dog.

“He was just one of these dogs that ends up homeless,” said Heather Allen, CEO and president of HALO, Helping Animals Live On.

The Phoenix-based animal rescue organization got Monte from the Las Cruces animal shelter in April 2018. He was in a group of about 50 dogs transferred from the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, which is often filled to capacity and needs help finding homes for stray or abandoned animals.

“When he got here, his notes showed that he was super-friendly, that he gives kisses and that he loves attention, and knows how to sit and walks well on a leash,” Allen said.

His personality and looks were the perfect combination for animal trainers scouting for their star.

“We knew they were looking for a pet for a movie, but we didn’t know what movie. It was top secret, of course,” Allen said.

The trainers adopted Monte and gave him a new home.

“I think they knew they had a dog who could really fit the role they were looking for, but could also be a great family pet. These animals are part of their home. They’re part of their family, too,” said Allen.

“Lady and the Tramp” premieres Nov. 12 on the new Disney streaming service.

Monte and his leading lady, a cocker spaniel named Rose, are on the cover of the fall issue of the official Disney fan club magazine “twenty-three.”

Human actors in the movie include Justin Theroux as the voice of Tramp, Tessa Thompson as Lady and Sam Elliott as Trusty the Bloodhound.

Before he got the leading role in the new “Lady and the Tramp” live-action movie, Monte was in the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley in Las Cruces and then transferred to HALO animal rescue in Phoenix, where he got his lucky break. (Courtesy of HALO Animal Rescue)

People at the Mesilla Valley shelter where Monte spent time hope his story will help raise the profile of other shelter pets.

“These critters are sitting here fighting for their life every day,” said Holly Wells, who works at the shelter in Las Cruces. “We are at super capacity at this point for both dogs and cats.”

The crowded shelter relies on individual adoptions and rescue groups to give dogs like Monte a second chance.

Allen, the founder of HALO, said she hopes the scruffy star of the new “Lady and the Tramp” movie will raise awareness about other animals waiting to be adopted.

“I think Monte being a mutt, he’s a good example for people to see that mutts of the world are amazing and they can be taught to do anything from being a movie star to just being your best friend,” Allen said.