Furever friends. Theo Rossi is sharing the story of the special relationship he has with his rescue dog Benito in the hopes that it inspires people to adopt from local shelters.
The Luke Cage star, 43, has linked up with PETA to urge fans to adopt, not shop, when it comes to choosing an animal to live in your home. “Once we brought Benito home, there was an immediate understanding that he was one of us, part of the family. Benny literally saved my life one time, and he’s more special than words can ever describe,” he exclusively tells Us Weekly. “When you adopt an animal from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder or pet store, you save a life just like he saved mine—and who doesn’t love that?!”
The Sons of Anarchy alum has good reason to be indebted to the 15-year-old ridgeback-shepherd mix: Benito once woke him up after he had blacked out following a night of partying. “Next thing I remember I am lying on the floor. I feel Benito’s giant paws pushing on my chest and hear him crying and barking. I try to move and that’s when I feel the vomit in my esophagus. I had thrown up and it was still in my throat,” he recalled in a story published by Men’s Journal. “Benito had been pawing at me so hard to wake me up that I had cuts on my chest. I turned my body enough to get it out, and it must have been sitting there in my throat for a while because it was in the shape of it, it had started to harden up.”
“I am just laying there, starting to come out of it, and I realize that he had just saved my life,” he continued. “I looked him in the eyes. I knew in that moment I needed to change.”
Rossi’s second chance inspired him to start making the changes necessary to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. He also credits the harrowing experience for shifting the fate of his role as Juice on Sons of Anarchy: “I don’t think [Kurt Sutter] would have given that responsibility to me if I had kept living the way I had.” The Lowriders actor and his wife Meghan named their 1-year-old son Arlo Benjamin, inspired by Benito. Their first child, Kane, 3, was also named after a Rottweiler Rossi had in college.
The Staten Island native is just one of the many celebrities in Hollywood who work tirelessly to promote kindness to animals. John Stamos, Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron, among others, also work alongside PETA to help raise awareness for the nonprofit organization.