TV Star Seamus Dever advocates for animal rescue
By Dustin Fitzharris
On ABC’s Castle, Seamus Dever plays the charming and quirky NYPD homicide detective Kevin Ryan. Now in its fifth season, the dramedy has developed a cult following and has turned Dever into a television heartthrob.
While he’s been acting since he was 6 years old, and has appeared in countless television shows—including General Hospital and Army Wives—Dever says he’s not comfortable being labeled as a celebrity. However, he is more than happy to use his recognition to lend his support to animal rescue. With two rescue dogs of his own, he is passionate about helping animals find loving homes.
Dever says his parents instilled in him a love and appreciation for animals. “Even before they called it rescuing, my parents were always taking in strays,” he says. “We never sought out our pets; they came to us. They became a part of our family and stayed with us until the day they died.”
Reflecting on the past, Dever says he was “pretty much a nerd” growing up in Arizona. He loved school and was intrigued with facts. Not surprisingly, he was the valedictorian of his high school class. When away from school, he spent a lot of time building things in his father’s shed. In fact, he believes that if he hadn’t become an actor, he may have become a scientist.
Regardless of his career, animals have remained a huge part of Dever’s life. He laughs as he thinks about some of his previous four-legged companions, such as Rudy, the old tomcat. “He was just pissed! He would fight all of the other cats, but he loved humans,” Dever recalls. “You could tell he was a street cat through and through.” The Dever family eventually ended up adopting the wily kitty after Rudy figured out how to use their dog door. The smart and sneaky cat would come in during the middle of the night, make himself at home, and eat the other animals’ food!
Then there was George, the first dog Dever rescued with his wife, Juliana (who happens to play his TV wife on Castle). A Lab/Beagle mix, George was 9 years old when he came to live with them as a foster.
“We’re terrible fosters,” Dever says. “We foster, and then we keep!”
When George came into their home, he had a cough, and they could tell he had lived a rough life. He lived with Dever and his wife for five happy years before passing away. “We gave him a lot of good years,” Dever says. “We were basically his retirement plan. The most amazing thing is when you start feeding a dog like that a good diet, you start to see a change in their coat, their health, and their energy. You sort of bring them back from the dead. It’s a pretty amazing transformation, and we felt good watching George experience that.”
Like George, the Devers’ latest rescues—Sophie, a Corgi/German Shepherd mix, and Maizy, a Beagle—weren’t puppies when they were rescued. Although Dever understands why many desire to have a dog from the time they are a puppy, he says he’s partial to seniors, and he encourages others to look beyond age when adopting a pet. He thinks that older dogs are good for people who are away from home during the day, because they are likely to be better behaved. Although Maizy is a purebred, he believes mutts make the best pets because they often have a nice disposition to go along with their varied genetics. However, he knows that many people get hung up on a specific breed.
“Love the pet and not the look of the pet,” Dever advises.
Dever’s love for animals extends way beyond his own home. Not only does he support various animal charities—including Best Friends Animal Society, Farm Sanctuary, and Beagles and Buddies—he has been an avid vegetarian for close to 10 years. It’s something he learned from his father, who hasn’t eaten meat in 50 years, and is always reminding him to think about where his food is coming from.
“People think one type of animal is okay to eat and another is okay to cuddle,” Dever observes. “When you stop making a distinction between the two, you start to think, ‘Why am I making a moral line for myself? Shouldn’t I care for all animals the same?’ That’s why I became a vegetarian.”
When it comes to his professional career, he’s definitely at the top of his game. Before landing the role of Kevin Ryan, Dever had already been living in Los Angeles for about nine years. Even though there was never a moment when he believed he wouldn’t make it as an actor, he admits that it was a lot harder than he thought it would be.
When Castle wraps for the day, Dever runs home to have “snug time” with Sophie and Maizy. “We rub heads for a little while,” Dever says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, the pack leader is home!’ I scratch and pet them to let them know very physically that I’m home. Then we do a little snugglin’.”
Dever hopes Castle will have a long a run, and says that eventually he would like to star in a show of his own and do more live theater. Of course, no matter what road animal advocate and rescuer Dever decides to walk down, one thing is for sure: The pitter patter of little paws will be right there beside him.