Hilary Swank wants to bring stray dogs and disadvantaged people together
In honor of her former dog, and in recognition of the ability of dogs to bring people out of their shells, Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank says she plans to start a non profit organization to bring needy children and animals together.
“I’ve seen firsthand how it changes the path of the soul, for the animal and for the child,” Swank told The Associated Press while visiting Bucharest.
The charity, to be called Hilaroo, combines her name and that of her late dog, Karoo (South African for “countryside”), a corgi-Jack Russell mix she rescued while filming Red Dust in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.
Last week, the 37-year-old actress was in Paris for the Salvatore Ferragamo Cruise Collection 2013 show, but she made a side trip to Romania to visit projects set up by the animal welfare foundation Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) that encourage interaction between stray dogs and institutionalized people.
Along with her was Kai, a Jack Russell terrier she rescued in Los Angeles and who accompanies her on most trips.
Bucharest has an estimated 35,000 strays living on the streets, and what to do about them is an ongoing debate between those who believe they should be exterminated and those who advocate shelters and sterilization programs.
Swank, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of a waitress-turned-boxer in “Million Dollar Baby,” told the AP that — while viewed as a problem — the strays of Bucharest can also be seen as a solution, specifically in programs where street dogs and disadvantaged people are brought together.
“I believe that is so healing to these kids who don’t trust people anymore. The unconditional love of an animal is very healing and teaches them about not just unconditional love but about a relationship, about responsibility, about anger management.”
Visiting a retirement home, she talked about one example: “There was a woman didn’t get out of bed, and after a few weeks of the dog coming to visit she’s up walking,” she said. “The dog literally got her out of bed.”
Next month, Swank begins work on “Martha and Mary,” an HBO movie about two women trying to eradicate malaria. It will be shot in North Carolina and South Africa.
Before leaving Bucharest, she urged people to neuter unwanted dogs and cats rather than kill them.
“I believe in a “No-Kill” policy,” she said. “Hopefully (we are) getting to a place where we have “No-Kill” universally and just a more caring attitude in general to all animals.”
(Photo: Swank with Karoo; Most Wanted/Flynet, via People magazine)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animal welfare, animals, bucharest, charity, disadvantaged, dogs, four paws, hilaroo, hilary, insititutionalized, kai, karoo, million dollar baby, neuter, oscar, pets, romania, spay, stray dogs, strays, swank, unconditional love, vier pfoten, visit, winning