‘SNL’s’ Melissa Villaseñor on Why Adopting a Dog Is No Joke

Clear the Shelters

Melissa Villaseñor gets paid to make people laugh on “SNL.”

While her work as an “SNL” cast member is quite enviable, it’s still a job. And at the end of the day, it’s nice to have “a little pal” to come home to.

At the suggestion of her co-star Cecily Strong, she decided to adopt a dog from the same shelter that Strong got her dog, Lucy, Best Friends Animal Society.

Before even meeting the dog in person, Villaseñor fell in love with a photo of a little puppy that was found on the street. “I immediately was like, that’s my doggie,” she said.

In March, she brought Penny home.

Having grown up with all kinds of dogs at home, from a lab mix to a german shepherd to a schnauzer, the breed wasn’t something that mattered. It was important, however, to adopt a dog.

“I think there’s just so many dogs out there that need a home and they’re all sweet and they just all deserve a home, Villaseñor said.

As part of her commitment to finding animals a good home, Villaseñor partnered with Clear the Shelters and designed a t-shirt starring her and her dog Penny. 100% of the net proceeds go to Greater Good and Clear the Shelters funds.

Villaseñor is a self-described “yarn fanatic.” For the t-shirt design, she drew a yarn-like version of herself to represent how she felt “messy and wonky.” Penny is seen as herself as she’s what “grounds” her and serves as her comfort and is her “little protector.”

In these challenging times, she’s grateful that Penny’s always there. “There’s one day you’re feeling good and the next you’re like, boom, I’m a mess today,” Villaseñor said.

Recently, Villaseñor dealt with the passing of her uncle, and she described how Penny somehow knew that she was grieving and offered her comfort by placing her head on her knee.

“She can really feel when something is gloomy and I think that’s just amazing,” Villaseñor said.

Penny has also taught her to appreciate life more, in general. When they’re out walking together, Penny will often stop to smell the flowers. Penny also loves to hop and run in the grass. Seeing how fun it is for her, she now walks barefoot in the grass and notices how nice it feels on the bottom of her feet. Villaseñor also says Penny helps her to be present and even spontaneous.

“I just love seeing Penny run around, especially at a dog park or my parent’s backyard. Just seeing a dog jump for joy gives me the most warmth and happiness,” she said. “I think that’s something that I’d like to see every day.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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