We Chat With “Scandal” Star Bellamy Young About Shelter Pets and White House Dogs

No scandal here -- Young's passion for dog rescue and adoption is real! After all, she was adopted.

Meghan Lodge  |  Mar 13th 2015


If you’re a Scandal fan, you know Bellamy Young from her role as Mellie Grant, the bold and politically ambitious first lady. Unlike her onscreen persona, the actress has a warm and friendly personality, with a particular soft spot for shelter pets.

In fact, she has teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States, the Shelter Pet Project, Maddie’s Fund, and the Ad Council to create a video in the “Meet My Shelter Pet” series. It features her adopted dog Bean and cat Sadie; Young wants everyone to know that “euthanizing healthy pets is a scandal.” I loved the video and wanted to know more about Bean (and Sadie), and I also had a burning Scandal question to ask …

Meghan Lodge for Dogster: Are Sadie and Bean your first adopted pets? Tell me more: When did you adopt them? How old were they? Do you know what breeds they are?

I’ve always adopted rescued pets. I’m adopted myself, so adoption is, of course, very near and dear to my heart. I believe every little soul alive has love to give and that no life is disposable. I feel so lucky whenever I get to adopt or foster, like I’m getting to play my part in the grander scheme of things.

I adopted Sadie about eight years ago from the North Central shelter here in Los Angeles; she’s a tortie and every bit as chatty as they’re purported to be. You can have full paragraphs of conversation with Sadie, and she’ll always get the last word in. Bean came from the Carson shelter in Gardena. I pulled her and a Terrier mix, then called Winston, at the same time that go around. Winston is now named Hank and living on a farm in Georgia. I thought Bean would make a great second dog for my mom in North Carolina, but it turns out she was meant for me all along.

What inspired you to adopt a cat and a dog? Is one of them the boss of the household?

I’ve always spent my life in the company of animals; I can’t imagine not. They bring such peace and unconditional love to every day. And, of course, with Sadie, I have the bonus of an extra opinion on everything — she’s the alpha in the house and always makes her preferences known. Luckily, she has unerring taste.

Did you grow up with pets? What do you think encouraged your love for animals?

We always had animals when I was growing up. Everyone in my family did. And the animals were part of the family, not some strange subset or an afterthought. I think most of all it was my amazing Aunt Norma, who taught me what an honor and responsibility it is to love an animal. They put their whole lives in your hands, their complete trust, and they love you unconditionally. That is a sacred space to operate in and a real blessing in one’s life. That kind of love heals you. And makes you more compassionate for the more conditional animals we deal with every day — like other human beings.

What is your most memorable moment with Sadie and Bean?

I know it seems silly to say, but getting to shoot with the Humane Society of the United States for the Shelter Pet Project campaign commercial was such a special day. I’m lucky enough to get to work a lot, but to get to take them to work with me was just a dream. And they were such naturals! So calm and sweet. Once Sadie saw that all the lights and all the people were focused on her, I could feel her relax, as if to say, “Finally! Things are as they should be!” She was in heaven!

Bean wasn’t sure what to do with herself, but luckily I had brought her favorite blanket, so as soon as I brought that out she was like, “Oh, sleep here? OK! Got it!” The icing on the cake was getting to see her cute little mug in Times Square. Priceless!

OK, fans want to know: Just how spoiled are Sadie and Bean?

They’re pretty chill animals, honestly. My house is a no-divas zone, so nobody really acts up. Everybody’s pretty fond of napping and of the word “treat.” It’s snuggly love all day long. Though I will say Bean needs to be covered up at all times — she’ll give the lowest, tiniest grrrrrr, more of a beg than a demand, until you notice her and pull the blanket up. Sadie needs a nice conversation every now and then. And she would be happy being petted until the end of time if she could be!

A Scandal fan question: Why don’t the Grants have a dog? Having a dog seems to be a White House tradition, so we dog lovers are curious!

I lobbied long and hard for a White House dog — Shonda [Rhimes, Scandal creator] finally said, “Of course you have a dog; it’s just off-screen.” I like to think that the dog spends his days playing with Teddy. They have a great love going in my mind.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who is looking to adopt a new pet?

Don’t expect everything to be perfect all at once. You know how long it takes to learn about another person; trust takes time. Just open your heart and let your new companion know that they are safe, that you’re there for them, that you’re listening — and then really do listen. Believe me, they’re trying to communicate and want to please you. Once you start understanding each other, the trust is built, and sooner than you know you’ll have a love that lasts a lifetime.

Read our most recent stories about celebrities with dogs:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.