If you’re like me, reading US Weekly religiously every week, or you tend to spend your valuable idle time Keeping Up with the Kardashians, you may be under the impression that all celebrities do in their spare time is tote their Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf lattes, with a tot slung over each shoulder, on their way to their Yogilates class. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in some cases.
Recently, as I was perusing said Us Weekly (ahem), I stumbled upon a snippet about a celebrity spending much of her free time working on behalf of animals. All celebrities seem to have a pet cause (pun intended); however, this got me thinking about which celebrities truly go above and beyond for animals, using their name and fame to make a difference for a group without a clear, collective voice.
Below is the semi-official, slightly-off-the-cuff, I’m-sure-I-forgot-someone “Great Pet Health Top 5 Celebrity Animal Advocates” list:
Katherine deserves special mention, so we put her first. Not only does she support existing animal causes; she and her mother started their own organization, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, in honor of Katherine’s deceased brother. The mission of the foundation is to support existing non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organizations in their efforts to save shelter animals. In addition, they help to finance medical treatment and fund free spay/neuter programs and clinics across the nation. The Foundation focuses heavily on educating and training the public about animal abuse and neglect prevention. Like many of the shelters they support, the Foundation maintains an internal rescue group, called the Heigl Hounds of Hope, that finds homes for mid to large sized dogs from high kill shelters.
Hayden is also very hands-on with her animal activism. In 2007, she participated in a documentary, titled The Cove, about an annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Willing to be arrested, she joined a group of activists confronting Japanese fisherman, attempting to stop the mass killings and bring to light the horrific and cruel dolphin hunting practices. “I risked my life,” Panettiere told TV Guide. “A lot of people in this world will say they are involved in causes and organizations, but they don’t actually do something. It was a great feeling to be there physically, making a difference.”
Panettiere, who has been instrumental in raising public awareness about cruel fishing practices, also serves as the international spokesperson for the Whaleman Foundation. The “Save the Whales Again!” campaign aims to end all commercial and scientific whaling by Japan, Norway and Iceland, as well as end the brutal drive and harpoon bunts of Japan which kill over 25,000 dolphins, porpoises and pilot whales a year. For more information, visit www.savethewhalesagain.com.
Ellen is passionate about animal rescue, promoting several causes related to the welfare of animals. She co-owns Halo Pet Food, a holistic and natural pet food manufacturer. Halo donated over a million meals in to homeless pets across the country at organizations including Best Friends Animal Society, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and many more. DeGeneres’ partner, Portia de Rossi, is also pursuing an animal rights project of her own, teaming up with Alley Cat Allies to promote the fair treatment of feral cats. Finally, Ellen supports Gentle Barn, an organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary of all types of abused animals (not just dogs and cats, but also horses, cows, pigs, sheep and even llamas!).
Pierce dedicates much of his time and money towards marine mammal protection, among other charitable causes. He has worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council to stop the Navy from implementing sonar systems that may kill various species of marine mammals, including whales, seals and dolphins. In addition, Pierce is particularly gifted at lobbying and influencing legislation in a way that protects animals. He sits on the board of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and has joined with them to endorse a ban on commercial whaling, which has been an ongoing battle. Pierce makes our list because of the special way he contributes his time towards the marine mammal protection cause, going straight to the center of things to influence leaders and lawmakers to enact protective legislation.
Better known as Victoria from the Twilight series, Rachelle is a passionate animal advocate, very involved with the Best Friends organization. She was deeply moved by the vision of the organization – that there should be no homeless pets. She is probably best known in the animal world as the voice of Best Friend’s “Puppies Aren’t Products” campaign. In an interview by Tails magazine, Rachelle cites the goals of this campaign: “The first step [of the Puppies Aren’t Products campaign] is to have a no-kill shelter to eliminate the existence of a shelter where they euthanize animals. The second step is shutting down puppy mills to stop the cruel over-breeding that brings new animals into the world when there are plenty who need homes. The third step is to encourage people to rescue or adopt when they look for a pet. If we were able to implement these three steps, we would live in a world where there were no homeless pets. It’s so simple of a concept.”
Authored By: Lauren Boles
Photo: Courtesy of Walt Stoneburner via Flickr (CC by 2.o)