Rising to stardom at a relatively young age, Hilary Swank has become well-known for roles such as Julie Pierce in The Next Karate Kid and Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby. Her extended acting career dating back to 1991 (when she was only 17 years old) has garnered media attention the globe over into the 21st century. However, while she may be best known for her filmography, there are other aspects in her life to which she dedicates herself with equal fervor, one of the more prominent areas being toward the treatment of animals.
The most obvious place to start is the Hilaroo Foundation, founded by Swank and inspired by her relationship with a dog she found on set in South Africa. The pup that she later named Karoo (get it? Hilary + Karoo = Hilaroo) had been abandoned and, according to veterinarians that initially took care of her before traveling to the States with Swank, had determined she was riddled with worms and ticks, and she had even been doused with kerosene. Swank attributes her desire to start the Hilaroo Foundation to the dog’s ability to convey a wide variety of emotions in her that sparked a need to give those same emotions to others in need.
The Hilaroo Foundation, at its core, is to unite troubled or passed-over youths with abandoned animals in an effort to offer some emotional stability to each other. United through the program, the child and animal simultaneously undergo sessions of therapy, responsibility training and team-building activities that promote wellness for each other. There are even plans in the works to extend facilities and availability to those in need so they can participate in after-school programs and even stay for week-long summer camp sessions. The long-term goal of this program is to improve learning possibilities through children and rescuing abandoned dogs that might otherwise suffer the fate of kill shelters. With hopes to cycle children through to graduation and give them an opportunity after the fact and helping rescue dogs into permanent homes, the Hilaroo Foundation hopes to bring more children from difficult situations and more dogs from untimely fates into a loving and positive atmosphere that can extend deep into their later lives.
Apart from being active with her foundation, however, Swank also takes a more hands-on approach with rescuing animals. She has been known to foster puppies out of Louie’s Legacy, a program that relocates dogs and cats from shelters into temporary foster homes before they can be placed in forever homes. Swank had recently fostered two golden retriever pups named Mulder and Scully, with plans on keeping one of them and finding a good home for the other.
Swank is also known for her positions as a spokesperson on behalf of programs and companies with deep connections to animals and their well-being and legal practice management software. In 2009, Swank was also approached on being the spokeswoman for the Iam’s Home 4 the Holidays adoption campaign, a campaign in which she actively participated when she adopted a golden retriever mix named Rumi.