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Q&A with Theo Rossi

'Sons of Anarchy' star owes life to dogs

All Animals magazine, March/April 2016

  • Jeff Lewis/API Images for The HSUS

Theo Rossi has special empathy for street dogs. In a sense, he played one for years on TV’s Sons of Anarchy. Rossi’s character, Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz, struggled to survive, as he sought safety in a brutal world. But Rossi’s connection to homeless dogs goes deeper than that: He has three rescued dogs of his own.

The actor, producer and philanthropist traces his love of animals to his mother, who taught him that all living things are equal. He uses his celebrity to spread the word about helping animals. He’s seen Sons of Anarchy fans’ powerful reaction when Juice’s motorcycle gang rescued a dogfighting victim, and he hopes future film and TV projects continue to spotlight the need to protect animals.

In this edited interview with staff writer Tanya Mulford, Rossi talks about his love for dogs and that memorable dogfighting scene.

What made you want to help street dogs?
I’ve never lived a single day of my life without animals of some type on the ride with me. Dogs were always one of them, and dogs have been my right hand for as long as I can remember. Without them, there is no me. I owe my life to dogs and all animals.

In a scene from Sons of Anarchy, the gang breaks up a dogfighting ring, rescuing a pit bull. How did you discuss that with fans?
I usually explain that we were able to accomplish that scene with two beautiful brother and sister pits named Bonnie and Clyde, who were actually filmed while playing. The scene was important to everyone because cast and crew were a team of animal lovers.

How valuable can shows like yours be in terms of focusing attention on issues like dogfighting?
Sons of Anarchy was seen all over the world by people with different backgrounds. When we show these characters saying that they’re vehemently against dogfighting, maybe we can change a few things.

You spoke at The HSUS 60th anniversary To the Rescue gala. What message did you want to convey?
As animals go, we go. Their welfare, their well-being are crucial. We must fight every single second to make sure that we never forget how absolutely integral animals of all kinds are for our existence. Living harmoniously is not just something we should strive for. It should be at the forefront of our efforts.

Learn more about The HSUS campaign to end dogfighting»