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Healthy Pets

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Nikita Star Maggie Q Fights for the Rights of All Animals

From puppy mills in Los Angeles to bears in Vietnam, the young actress has made helping animals her primary mission.

Maggie Q: Saving, Training Unadoptable Dogs continued...

In a short session with world-renowned dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan, she learned everything she was doing wrong with her dogs, she says. After a good cry, she went on to find Los Angeles trainer Tyson Kilmer. Kilmer worked with the dogs but also trained Q to be a dog trainer, which she says has completely changed her life -- and the dogs'. She calls Kilmer her hero.

But while Q has mastered dog issues on the domestic front, there remains an infinite amount of work to be done on a local, national, and global scale. She has been vocal in supporting animal rescue and the proposed Los Angeles legislation that would outlaw puppy mills, which gained momentum last month.

Q: Animal Rights Work as ‘Soul Food’

Earlier this year, she reluctantly started using Twitter and has found it an effective vehicle for sharing her views and learning from her followers about new animal issues that need to be addressed. She posts puppy pictures from the local shelter, expresses revulsion toward circuses' use of animals, and urges adoption (one recent tweet: "Go to a shelter and show the ones 'nobody' wants that they are GOLD!").

Q is also the spokeswoman for Best Friends Animal Society's ( "Saving America's Dogs" campaign, which educates people about the good in pit bulls, and once a year she volunteers for a week at the organization's sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. "They think I'm giving them something with my time," she says, "but it does so much for me as a human being. I go up there to recharge. It's soul food."

Internationally, she's involved with bear rescue in Vietnam and an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, through Animals Asia ( She also co-produced Earthlings, a documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix that explores society's treatment of animals, which Q admits is tough to watch for its graphic truth about animal abuse.

In the course of her animal rights work, Q sometimes thinks back to an article she read in VegNews, a vegetarian lifestyle magazine, about activist burnout. "At the time I didn't really feel burnt out, but I read it anyway," she says. "It's like world hunger or the environment -- they're all big issues." She says thinking she can "win" and conquer these issues leads to feeling overwhelmed and defeated, so instead, she finds positive ways to contribute.

"It's important to me that, while I'm alive, I don't create the kind of [animal] suffering that would be created if I didn't care," she says. "When I die, my physical body will be gone. But I do believe my energy will stay here, and the decisions I've made will matter."

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Reviewed on July 01, 2011

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