This week, I interviewed Hilary Swank, the ambassador for the Iams Home 4 the Holidays adoption program. The program has placed more than 3 million animals in homes since 1999, and in 2008, the adoption drive found homes for 1,202,718 pets. The 2009 campaign launched on October 1st, and with 3,500 animal organizations, their goal is to help 1.5 million pets find homes this holiday season.
Hilary is an outspoken animal lover who is no stranger to rescuing animals in need. She has adopted many pets throughout her life, including her two dogs Karoo and Rumi. Five years ago, while filming Red Dust in the South African countryside of Karoo, Hilary befriended a starving, tick-infested stray dog she found on the side of a road and adopted him. She adopted Rumi last fall from a participating IH4TH shelter in Los Angeles. I had a few minutes to talk to Hilary about her work with Iams’ Home for the Holidays Program.
Karen: For someone as busy as you, in the midst of promoting a new movie that premieres this week, it seems it would have been easier to write a check than to become the ambassador for the Iams Home 4 the Holidays campaign. What inspired you to get so deeply involved with this program?
Hilary: Well, I’ve always loved animals and I want to do as much as I can to help them. Over 8 million pets are currently homeless in the United States; it’s just terrible. My own animals are a great source of friendship, inspiration and comfort to me, and I know others would feel the same if they had pets.
Because the holiday season is the most popular time of the year for people to buy pets as gifts, it makes sense to try to save the lives of shelter pets by encouraging people to adopt a shelter pet rather than buy from a puppy mill or backyard breeder. Many people are unaware that there are a lot of purebreds available at shelters; for example, as many as 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds. Purebred or not, shelter pets that are placed in loving homes get a second chance at life, and I want to help make that happen.
Karen: Last year, Iams Home 4 the Holidays placed 1 million pets in homes, and this year’s goal is to find homes for 1.5 million pets. Given the current economic climate, that’s a huge increase. Do you think you have a shot at reaching that goal?
Hilary: Absolutely. Pets provide a lot of comfort and solace during tough times, and I think now, more than ever, people should have pets in their lives. Everyone is under a lot of stress for a lot of different reasons, and nothing’s better than a purring kitten or faithful dog to give you comfort and solace when times are tough. Having someone welcome you home with unconditional love after a stressful day — there’s nothing better than that. They love you no matter what.”
To learn more about how to make a difference in the life of an orphaned pet, including finding participating shelters, volunteering and making a donation to support animal organizations and pets awaiting new homes, visit iamshome4theholidays.com.
About Iams Home 4 the Holidays (IH4TH)
As one of the most successful pet adoption programs in the world, IH4TH partners thousands of animal organizations dedicated to finding forever homes for orphaned pets. Founded by Helen Woodward Animal Center and supported by Iams, IH4TH began in 1999 with just 14 participating animal shelters in San Diego County. Since it began 11 years ago, IH4TH along with nearly 3,500 pet adoption centers has helped more than 3,278,143 families experience the joy of pet adoption, including 1.2 million pet adoptions this past year alone. For more information, please visit www.iamshome4theholidays.com or follow us at www.twitter.com/IH4TH.