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Saving Zeus

Actress Nikki Reed helps Louisiana family fight dog breed ban

Kind News magazine, August/September 2015

Actress Nikki Reed stops by to celebrate with O'Hara Owens and Zeus. Photo by Andrea Mabry/The HSUS

In Greek mythology, Zeus was the king of all of the gods. In O'Hara Owens' home, a dog named Zeus is also king—and O'Hara's best friend.

O'Hara has problems with her neck and has to wear a brace and use a wheelchair. Even though Zeus wasn't trained as a service dog—one who helps people with disabilities—Zeus became O'Hara's protector. When she was in pain or having problems, Zeus let O'Hara's mom know that she needed help.

So it was a shock when O'Hara and her mom learned that they would no longer be able to keep Zeus. According to a new law passed in their town, they would have to give him up or move away.

The new law banned certain breeds of dogs—including pit bull-type dogs like Zeus. No matter how sweet or friendly the animals were, they were no longer welcome in Moreauville, Louisiana. They were considered "dangerous."

Fight for what's right

O'Hara's family wasn't going to lose Zeus without a fight. Joanna Armand, O'Hara's mom, started a petition online. Before long, their story spread across the country, getting coverage on national television and reported in newspapers. Thousands of people signed the petition. Even Twilight actress and animal lover Nikki Reed got involved.

The actress believes that it's not certain breeds, or kinds of dogs, that are dangerous. Dogs can become dangerous if they are abused or not trained properly. "But that's the fault of the human being, it's not actually the fault of the breed," she says.

With pressure from the public and animal welfare groups like The HSUS, Moreauville's leaders decided to change the law. Instead of banning breeds, they would enforce leash laws to keep dogs from roaming and becoming problems.

O'Hara and her family were thrilled to have Zeus back in their lives. But there was still an unexpected surprise in store for them—Nikki Reed stopped by their home to meet O'Hara and Zeus and celebrate with them!

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