May I have your ‘paw-tograph?’

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2019

Farmville enjoyed a unique encounter with Hollywood at a recent Southside SPCA fundraiser held at the Holiday Inn Express.

Bella, the star and main character in the newly released movie “A Dog’s Way Home” stole the hearts of those that attended the fundraising event. Bella, (whose off screen name is Shelby), was the event’s special guest along with her owner and well-known Hollywood animal trainer Debbie Pearl.

To view photos from the event, click here.

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WTVR TV6’s Julie Bragg was also there to show her support of Southside SPCA’s efforts toward animal rescue and adoption.

Shelby, a Labrador/Catahoula hound mix according to Pearl, roamed the room, working the crowd and collecting as many of the pets and ear scratches she could get while Pearl gave Shelby’s backstory and how she came to become a bona fide Hollywood movie star.

“We had been searching all over for a dog that would be just right to play the part of Bella, Pearl said. “We finally found Shelby in a rescue shelter in Nashville, Tennessee. The shelter told us Shelby had been found and rescued by animal control officers. She had been living at a local landfill. She was half starved, eating garbage in the landfill.

“She was perfect for the part,” Pearl explained. “We only had 12 weeks until we began filming, though.”

Shelby rose to the occasion. Today, the canine star is living a life of luxury, touring the country promoting “A Dog’s Way Home” and attending fundraisers.

Shelby shares the silver screen in “A Dog’s Way Home” with Amber, her double in the movie and puppy “BB,” (short for Baby Bella).

“Amber was another rescue,” Debbie Pearl explained. “It’s a sad story. She was dumped in North Carolina and people were shooting at her.”

“Shelby and Amber were a perfect match,” Debbie Pearl said, “Shelby is kind of contained, and a little more laid back and Amber is more like, ‘what, wait, is that a ball?’ Throw the ball!’”

WTVR TV6’s Julie Bragg spoke with The Farmville Herald about the event, “We actually adopted a dog from Southside SPCA. I love what they do to rescue animals and find them homes. I want to show my support for them … and we want to meet Bella!”

Pearl owns and runs Paws for Effect, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. Paws for Effect has trained animals for at least 100 movies, nearly as many television shows and 60 commercials — and counting. It has offices in New York, New England, Michigan, Louisiana and Illinois.

Pearl also runs Dream Fetchers, a 501 c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on community awareness, animal assisted activities and therapies.

According to its website the Southside SPCA has provided rescue, shelter, medical treatment, spay/neuter services to over 45,000 animals. Its main facility, here in Prince Edward County has a capacity of 50 dogs, 12 litters of puppies and 55 cats and kittens.

Southside SPCA fundraising coordinator, Steve Smelcer told The Farmville Herald, “We are very fortunate to have Debbie and Shelby here for the event.”

Shelby was all too happy to show off a few of the training and filming techniques they used to make the movie and seemed to love posing for photos with those in attendance. She acted like a true star. Thank you and good luck, Shelby!