Disney makes 'shelter mutt' a Hollywood star in new version of Lady and the Tramp

Nick Allen
Monte was discovered at a shelter in Arizona and whisked to Hollywood to star in Disney's Lady and the Tramp

Hollywood stars have been discovered in all sorts of places, but never before in a dog shelter in Arizona.

Monte, a two-year-old mongrel, was languishing in his pen when Disney casting agents came calling.

His star power shone through and they selected him for one of the titular roles in a live-action remake of the classic 1955 animated film "Lady and the Tramp."

Monte will play the Tramp and has been whisked away to California to film alongside Rosie, a Cocker Spaniel who stars as Lady.

Heather Allen, president of the HALO animal rescue shelter in Phoenix, said: "We knew that the people meeting with him were considering him to be a Hollywood star. But we didn’t know for what because it was top secret. This isn’t just some obscure movie. 

This is 'Lady and the Tramp.' Everybody knows 'Lady and the Tramp.' This is a staple in a child’s life."

She added: "We knew he had the potential to become a Hollywood dog. When he arrived at the shelter he was super friendly."

The movie tells the story of Lady, who lives with a wealthy family, and her romance with the Tramp, who is a stray.

Monte and Rosie will recreate the classic spaghetti eating scene from the 1955 animated version.

The spaghetti scene n the orignal anmated Disney film Lady and the Tramp Credit: Film Stills

Actor Justin Theroux, who owns a rescue dog in real life, will provide Monte's voice, and Rosie will be voiced by actress Tessa Thompson.

Monte's rags-to-riches story began at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, a municipal high-kill shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

On April 26, 2018 he and a group of other dogs were rescued from there by HALO, which stand for Helping Animals Live On.

Shelter notes taken when he arrived in Arizona said he "gives kisses, loves attention, he knows how to sit, and walks well on a leash."

Ms Allen said other dogs from the shelter had been in advertisements, but never anything as high profile as a Disney film. She said it was unknown what breed Monte is.

"He’s a terrier mix of some sort. He’s a shelter mutt. That’s what makes this extra cool. He really represents how great shelter dogs are. They are super friendly and can be outgoing.

"He’s unique. If he needs a stunt double it’s not going to be easy to find a dog that looks like him.”

Monte has been adopted by Mark Forbes, an animal trainer working on the Disney film.

He sends the shelter pictures of Monte in California where, between filming and publicity appearances, he lives an ordinary life going for walks.

Ms Allen said: "It's special when these things happen. It helps show the world that shelter animals are wonderful and people can find their next best friend there.

"They can be highly trained to be in movies. It shows that they're not a bunch of broken and discarded animals. They make great family pets as well."

The film will reach audiences when the Disney+ streaming service launches on Nov. 12.

Disney said all other rescue dogs appearing in the movie alongside Monte have also been secured "forever homes" where they will live after filming ends, rather than being returned to shelters.

A spokesman for HALO said: "His adopters say Monte has been such a good boy and loving life. We are all so happy for him and can’t wait to check out the movie when it comes out."