The actor is partnering with Purina ONE to raise awareness about shelter pets and to inspire fans to adopt their own furry friend

By Claudia Harmata
July 30, 2020 05:11 PM
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Charles Melton/Instagram

New dog dad Charles Melton is helping to raise awareness for shelter animals, and hopes to inspire fans to adopt their own furry friends.

In May, the Riverdale star, 29, introduced the world to his new Siberian husky pup, Neya, sharing a sweet selfie of the snuggly dog on Instagram. Adoption had been on his mind for over a year, the actor tells PEOPLE, and while self-isolating amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Melton decided to finally take that leap after partnering with Purina ONE in a campaign to help clear out animal shelters.

"I partnered with Purina ONE and it was an easy fit because they have a shelters program where they donated 6.5 million pounds of dog and cat food to shelters, which is great. And along with the partnership, I got connected to the shelter with Hollywood Huskies and met Neya when she was 12 weeks old," Melton explains. "And at this time she was fostered in three different homes. So when we met it's ...  I met my soulmate and it's just been a match made in heaven since then."

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Melton and Neya have already been on a score of adventures together — the actor says that shortly after the adoption was completed, they hit the road for a couple of months "just isolating, traveling to different mountain tops, different campgrounds."

"My favorite memory was seeing Neya, she's a Siberian Husky, see snow for the first time," Melton recalls. "We were in Mount Hood staying at the Timberline Lodge where the exterior of The Shining was filmed, and we stayed there for about six days and every morning you would climb up Mount Hood and just seeing her run through the snow."

"I bought those little kids sleds, those little saucer plastic sleds that you can find," he adds. "I bought one of those and we went sledding down the mountain together. It was just beautiful."

Melton also recently attended sessions with Jill Breitner, otherwise known as "Jill the Dog Whisperer," to form a closer bond with Neya.

"It's more of a philosophy. I went to the farm where [Neya] was at [for dog school] and I spent a few days with her there just learning how to meet her needs and just how a puppy experiences the world and processes things and reading her body language," Melton says. "It kind of just opened my mind in a different way and a different approach as to being a better father for her, cause she is my child."

This close relationship with Neya has only made the actor even more passionate about his new partnership with Purina ONE.

"There are over six million pets in shelters and I think there are a lot of pets that need forever homes," he says. "Like for example, Neya, she was in three different homes before I found her."

For anyone hesitant about taking the step towards adoption, Melton admits, "It's a lot of responsibility, but for me, I can just only speak from my experience with Neya: it's the best decision I've ever made."