Stars Attend Opening of New Best Friends Facility

A cluster of stars gathered to greet the dawn of a new day in animal welfare in the Los Angeles area on February 16, 2012 at the grand opening of Best Friends Animal Society Pet Adoption and Spay-Neuter Services.

Actress Amy Smart strikes a pose with one of the dogs at the new center:

Approximately 19,000 orphaned dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the City of Angels, but thanks to their guardian angels at the renowned rescue organization– which is investing more than one million dollars each year to operate the facility– that number will drastically decrease as the new center provides low-cost spay/neuter services to the community and saves the lives of thousands of adoptable pets from area kill shelters. Best Friends’ goal in the first year is to find loving, forever homes for 3,000 pets from other L.A. city shelters and to spay and neuter 6,000 dogs and cats, with many of these pets coming from financially distressed portions of the city. That means 3,000 fewer animals that may otherwise have been euthanized in the L.A. shelter system, and potentially tens of thousands of puppies and kittens that won’t be born into an already overpopulated community.

Actor Danny Trejo meets one of the facility’s residents:

Among the celebrities (many of whom are Best Friends Animal Society Acclaimed Ambassadors) who used their star wattage to shine a spotlight on the new center were:

Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank

Meet the Fockers star Teri Polo (a new Mom to a rescue dog who recently appeared on Access Hollywood to help two of Best Friends adorable adoptables find homes)

Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men, SyFy series Lost Girl)

Eri and Eliza Roberts (The Dark Knight, The Expendables)

General Hospital star Julie Marie Berman and her husband Mike, who together raise funds for Best Friends Animal Society through the sale of their Better Buddies pet beds.

Animal Planet personality Jackson Galaxy (My Cat from Hell)

Shameless star Amy Smart

Rachelle Lefevre, star of Twilight and the CBS series A Gifted Man, who promoted Best Friends Animal Society’s Invisible Dogs Movement

Danny Trejo (Sons of Anarchy)

Psych cast member Tim Omundon

Jason Gray-Stanford (Monk)

Rachelle Lefevre signs the facility’s proclamation:

Although unable to appear at the glitterati-filled gathering, several stars were at the grand opening in spirit, and sent their support to the renowned animal welfare organization:

Actress Charlize Theron —”I’m so thrilled that Best Friends has been given the opportunity to open this new shelter for animals in need. Animal rescue is an issue near and dear to my heart and I hope that Los Angeles will embrace this new shelter and the Best Friend’s organization, giving animals the gift of a safe and secure space as they search for a permanent home.”

Country music singer/songwriter Willie Nelson and the Nelson family — “Thanks to Best Friends Animal Society for taking over the Northeast animal shelter and providing Los Angeles the opportunity to begin the transformation into a ‘no-kill’ city. This will set a much needed new standard of care for shelter animals everywhere. Hurray for Best Friends. Keep up the great work.”

Actress Linda Hunt (NCIS LA) — “Since work keeps me from being able to celebrate the opening of Best Friends Adoption Center here in Los Angeles in person, I want everyone to know how happy I am that we have them to take up our cause, yet again, for No More Homeless Pets, in the unique way Best Friends accomplishes so much. I have been a member for many years, have visited their Sanctuary many times and have seen firsthand how they lead by example. Instead of competing for resources, they share. How lucky we are.”

Actor Dick Van Patten, the founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods, has shown his admiration for the animal welfare organization by donating all of the pet food for the center’s first year of operation, and Universal Music Group Distribution generously donated some of their excess furniture for the facility.

Emmanuelle Vaugier and Jason Gray-Stanford tour the facility with Adoption Manager Mike Harmon:

Located at the Northeast Valley Animal Care Center in Mission Hills, the new shelter– which will play a prominent role in No More Homeless Pets Los Angeles, a coalition led and funded by Best Friends that’s made up of 33 local rescue and shelter partners, including Los Angeles Animal Services– will provide a temporary home for an average of 150 dogs and cats on any given day.

For more information about Best Friends Animal Society’s Pet Adoption and Spay-Neuter Services:

Photo Credit: Best Friends Animal Society

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About Grace Sydney

Grace Sydney is the Assistant Editor of and, covering celebrity-related rescue news. She operates the @HollywoodDogs Twitter account sharing information on celebrity fundraising for rescues and shelters.