Hilary Swank visited Bucharest, Romania last week in an attempt to save the lives of thousands of stray dogs.
The Oscar-winning actress visited projects set up by the animal welfare foundation Vier Pfoten, which encourages interaction between stray dogs and institutionalized people. The city has 35,000 strays whose fate struck a debate. Some are fighting for the strays to be sterilized, others want them to be put in shelters and some believe they need to be put down.
Swank rarely leaves home without her Jack Russell stray Kai, who she rescued in Los Angeles. She told the Associated Press that she has seen first-hand the good that animals can do for disadvantaged people.
"I believe that is so healing to these kids who don't trust people anymore," she told AP. "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... I've seen firsthand how it changes the path of the soul, for the animal and for the child."
The 37-year-old actress plans to launch a U.S. charity called Hilaroo to bring needy children and animals together. The name combines her name with that of her late dog, Karoo.
"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."
Swank raised eyebrows last year for attending a concert held in Chechnya in honor of the 35th birthday of extremely controversial Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on October 5. The actress has since spoke out and admitted that she didn't "know where she was going."
Swank most recently appeared in the star-studded cast of "New Year's Eve." She won two Oscars for her performances in "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby."
Swank will next appear opposite Matthew McConaughey in "The Dallas Buyer's Club," about an AIDS patient who, after being told to "go home and die," sought underground pharmacies selling HIV drugs not approved in the U.S. and eventually prolonged the lives of thousands of people and himself.