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Q&A with Nikki Reed

Twilight actress discusses breed discrimination, adult pets and fur in fashion

All Animals magazine, March/April 2015

  • Nikki Reed (left) welcomes home Zeus, who serves as O'Hara Owen's loyal companion and unofficial therapy dog. Denis Poroy/AP Images for The HSUS

Animals without a home, food or a soft place to sleep were welcome at the childhood home of actress and singer Nikki Reed.

“My mom allowed anything to come into the house … so we kind of had a farm growing up,” Reed says, laughing. The family fostered, rehabilitated and rehomed a variety of animals, including pit bulls and German shepherds.

That's why she was outraged—“actually, that's an understatement,” she says—to learn about Zeus, a pit bull in Moreauville, Louisiana, who had been taken from his family because of a new ban on “dangerous” breeds. Zeus' family launched an Internet campaign, and the village repealed the ban.

Dogs can be dangerous if they were abused or not trained properly, Reed says, “but that's the fault of the human being, it's not actually the fault of the breed.”

In this edited interview with All Animals deputy editorial director Emily Smith, the Twilight actress talks about breed discrimination, as well as fur in fashion and her love of adult pets.

What message do you hope to send to people who fear certain breeds?

Treat every dog as an individual, just like you treat people. You can't judge an entire breed based on one story you read. These dogs are incredible; they're some of the most loyal and loving companions, and it just breaks my heart to see them generalized like this.

Tell us about the pets you care for now.

I have nine animals, nine going on 100! Most of them are fosters, anybody who needs a home or some love—it's not about the breed, and it's not about the age. There's something really amazing about the look in the eyes of an adult dog or an adult cat. Taking care of a puppy is so sweet—and gosh, everybody loves puppy breath—but most of my animals I've adopted as adults.

You're regularly spotted at designer runway shows. Do you think we'll ever see a day when fashion doesn't include fur?

I would hope so; I don't know. I think that people are becoming more aware of what it means to wear fur and what it takes to acquire that shawl or that coat. Unfortunately, I think there's a huge disconnect between people and animals, and they're viewed as property and not as part of this whole cyclical, interconnected unit that we are on this planet.

What advice do you have for people who want to do more to help animals?

It's not about being perfect. I don't eat meat or dairy, but I don't call myself a vegan because there are other things I do that aren't perfect. It's too much to carry, too much to shoulder, to think that you have to do everything the right way. But if every person can do one thing or two things, that makes a huge difference, whether it's reducing the amount of meat you eat or maybe you drop off food at an animal shelter. My 14-year-old brother volunteers to walk dogs. You don't have to do it all; just do something.

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