Emmy Rossum Doesn't Mess Around When It Comes to Animal Rights

Emmy Rossum Doesn't Mess Around When It Comes to Animal Rights
Courtesy Best Friends Animal Society
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Emmy Rossum's Los Angeles home is full of happy barks and purrs. The actress has three adopted pets: Cinnamon, a teacup Yorkshire terrier; Fiona, cat named after her character on Shameless; and Pepper, a terrier-Havanese mix (pictures with Rossum, above). "When I met Pepper, she was totally shaved because her fur had been so matted from living on the street," Rossum says. "But as soon as I picked up this adorable mess of an animal, we had a connection."

Had it not been for Rossum and her passionate advocacy for the no-kill movement, these three pets might have been among the millions of animals euthanized annually by shelters in the United States. Now Rossum has partnered with the Best Friends Animal Society's Save Them All campaign to encourage adoption. Not only does adopting give a pet a lifelong home," she says, "but it opens up a space in a sanctuary so that another animal can be rescued off the streets."

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Clearly you're an animal person. Did you grow up with cats and dogs?
Yes, but the menagerie I grew up with also included parakeets, fish, snails, and rabbits.

What is the key to Save Them All's success?
We don't focus exclusively on the big picture, of one day making this country a no-kill environment. We work incrementally and personally.

What does a success story look like for you?
I met a Chihuahua named Tinker Bell who had a walking disability and neurological damage. When she arrived at the sanctuary, she could only go in circles. Her trainer at Best Friends taught her how to walk normally and found her a forever home in New Jersey.

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The logic behind putting animals down is that there just aren't enough homes for them. Why do you think people might be hesitant to adopt?
People often assume that shelter animals will be aggressive or difficult to train. I understand why: When you see them in the shelter, they usually don't look happy or playful. But how would you feel if you were stuck in there? These animals come to life when you bring them into your home.

What if you don't have the space to keep a pet?
If you can't take an animal full-time, you can always foster one for a few weeks. Just be forewarned that you might fall in love.

For more features like this, pick up the August issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.

Related Video: What Do I Need to Know Before Getting a Pet?

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