Why Danny Trejo Thinks Rescuing Dogs Is So Important

You might be surprised to learn that Hollywood's most hardened and deadly hitman has a soft spot in his heart for the softer things. "Machete" star Danny Trejo has an altruistic hobby that strives to ensure a place of love and comfort for our furry, four-legged friends of the streets — and by that we mean dogs. As an avid supporter of Best Friends Animal Society, Trejo,  has campaigned on behalf of widespread K9 rescue efforts and strongly advocates for pet adoption. In 2012, he attended the foundation's grand opening and appeared with his dogs in an ad as part of the organization's celebrity campaign. 

"Dogs have always been a part of the family," Trejo, 77 years old at this writing, told Dogster in 2016. "My Uncle Gilbert taught me that dogs are our running partners. I used to ride my bike, and my dog Butch would run right beside me all the time." 

Danny Trejo feels we have a responsibility toward dogs

According to One Green Planet, there are around 70 million stray cats and dogs in the United States alone. Of those 70 million, only 6 million to 8 million actually make it into shelters. The rest remain exposed to the elements and tragically die before ever finding a home. It's an unsavory reality that devout animal lovers like Danny Trejo see as unacceptable and barbaric. "The reality is that they are holding up their end of the bargain," Trejo shared. "We're not holding up ours" (per Dogster).

Domesticated pets provide a significant degree of comfort to their human overseers, and the unfortunate truth is that their love isn't always properly reciprocated. Cats and dogs are often ousted from their homesteads when owners are no longer able to care for them, or if they fail to spay/neuter them, their offspring become strays in an already overpopulated community of animals. Danny Trejo refuses to take a dog's penchant for unconditional devotion for granted and has adopted a few of his own. 

Danny Trejo has four dogs

In an openhearted gesture of compassion and comaraderie, the "Heat" star has welcomed four dogs into his homestead that he now calls family (Per Remezcla, he routinely posts photos with them on his Instagram profile). Cash and Penny Lane, two of his prized pets, posed with Trejo in his Best Friends PSA in an effort to find homes for strays and raise awareness about the widespread euthanization of them in pounds across the country. 

He clearly took special joy in the now-deceased Cash's behaviors. "You could spell 'cookies,' and he would start barking. And you could spell 'walk,' and he would start barking," Trejo told Dogster. "One time, we had a party and everyone brought their kids. I told them OK, we're going to have a spelling bee, and there were like 10 kids. Tell me what this spells — 'c-o-o-k' and woof woof woof woof. OK, Cash won!"

Trejo is no stranger to life on the streets

It might not be too far off-base to wonder if Danny Trejo's love for stray animals arises from a particular degree of empathy toward living on the streets. Before he was a harrowing Hollywood hitman who wields guns and knives and all things deadly, he lived a life of hardship as a drug dealer, gangster, and incarcerated felon. Trejo grew up in a troubled home in San Fernando Valley and became enraptured by street violence and drug abuse at a young age. Throughout a slew of shootouts, drug deals, robberies, and death-defying ventures into the dark underbelly of society, he spent 11 years in prison and nearly eliminated any possibility of redemption (via Texas Monthly).

Nonetheless, he miraculously managed to pull his life together and has been clean and sober for over 50 years. At the age of 77, Trejo is still one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors. He published his memoirs last year ("Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood") and a cookbook the year before ("Trejo's Tacos: Recipes & Stories from L.A.") and continues to appear in films and on TV. His career, business endeavors, and love of dogs endure in place of what was once a life of seemingly hopeless debauchery. "I love animals. Animals are just so cool. We've got one planet — this is it. Everyone thinks this is a dress rehearsal, but this is not a dress rehearsal. We've got one shot at this thing," he shared (via Dogster).