09/24/2010 AT 12:10 PM EDT
It's more than just puppy love. Katherine Heigl
is behind a $1 million initiative to help no-cost spay and neuter programs in the Los Angeles area.
The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation
, named in memory of the actress's late brother, will work with the Cesar Millan's Millan Foundation, the City and County of Los Angeles and various other organizations on the project, called the Compassion Revolution
Heigl, who herself has six dogs, three of them rescues, told PEOPLEPets.com at the press conference to announce the pledge that she and her mother had felt hopeless and overwhelmed by the pet population crisis in L.A. Over 50,000 of 80,000 shelter animals in Los Angeles County were euthanized last year, according to the Heigl Foundation.
"How can we change the results for these animals?" she said. "[Shelters are not only] euthanizing sick, old dogs. It's gotten brutal, you know. It's inhuman, really."
The Heigl Foundation wanted a solution – training and education on how to reduce the pet population compassionately, instead of having to put down healthy animals. Heigl says that her upbringing influenced her when it came to the importance of spaying and neutering.
"When I was growing up, my mother and father had zero desire for any one of our animals to have a litter," she said. "I think it's a lot of work, it's a lot of energy. Then, as an adult, because of the way I was raised and because I had the means to do it, [spaying and neutering] goes without question.
"But there are a lot of communities that don't have that education, weren't raised that way and don't see their pets that way," she added. "They have no idea that a litter of 10 means a litter of, like, 400 in the future. We can tell them and educate them, and provide a way for them to spay and neuter their pets."
For more information on the initiative, visit compassion-revolution.com
Reporting by Melody Chiu