From Shelter to Stardom: Adopted Pets That Are Now A-List Celebrities

Morgan Sterling
by Morgan Sterling
Though they may be living the sweet life now, many of your favorite pet-celebs came from humble beginnings: the animal shelter!

You can’t keep an adorable and talented animal down. Being dropped off at the shelter didn’t stop these furry stars from reaching success. Rescue animals are a great option for adding a new member to your family. They have so much love to give, and with so many to choose from, you never know who will become the next tail-wagging sensation.

Here are just a few of the furry A-listers who went from shelter to stardom:


In the 1970s, the “Benji” film series became a childhood classic – it followed a friendly stray pup who gets himself into all kinds of trouble. The star of the show was a peppy rescue dog named Higgins. Higgins had a long career in show business, spanning 14 years as he appeared on some of the most popular sitcoms of the time. Soon after, Higgins’ own puppy, Benjean, went on to star in “Benji” films as well.

Grumpy Cat

With her short upturned nose and “Don’t bug me!” expression, Grumpy Cat, also known as Tardar Sauce, took the internet by storm. Making waves on Reddit forums for her sweet under bite and expressive eyes, Tardar became an instant meme. Her fame rose as she appeared on the cover of the New York Magazine and made many television cameos, including American Idol. This melancholy kitty even has her own Lifetime film: “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.” Tardar Sauce and her parents use their huge Facebook following to promote adoption and save the lives of other cats in the shelter system.


Uggie was once known as a pup with too much rambunctious energy for his adoptive parents. He was returned to the shelter two times before animal lover and professional trainer Omar Von Muller saw his potential. The pair worked together to channel Uggie’s energy into productive training sessions. Soon, Uggie showed his natural talent for being on set, and went on to star in “Water for Elephants” and Oscar award-winning film “The Artist.”

Tuna Melts My Heart

Tuna definitely melts our heart! The sweet dog was found on the side of a road in San Diego, abandoned by a breeder that dumped him there. Thankfully, Tuna was found by a loving rescuer who introduced her to her forever home. Once a shy, scared pup, now Tuna and his mom Courtney Dasher share their story through an Instagram page with over 400,000 followers and friends. This dog’s rescue story is one that shows the power of a rescue’s love.


“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” was a hugely successful comedy starring Will Ferrell. One of the film’s cutest characters was a mixed breed dog named Baxter. Though Baxter had a loving family in the film, the dog who played him, named Peanut, was once a shelter animal. Thankfully, Peanut was rescued by an animal trainer and the rest is history.


Marnie was an elderly dog found roaming the streets in Connecticut by shelter staff. She was in rough shape, with matted fur, cloudy eyes, and horribly rotten teeth. She was presumed blind and gave off a foul smell from her mouth. However, no one was ready to give up on the now famous dog. She was rescued by her forever family in New York who run her extremely popular Instagram page. After a little dental work, and some much needed healing, Marnie is happy and healthy and living a proper celebrity dog life!

Morgan Sterling
Morgan Sterling

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