He may play a badass vamp on TV, but in real life, Ian Somerhalder is as sweet as they come. In his adopted town of Atlanta, the “Vampire Diaries” star is doing a great thing for the homeless — but not in the way you might think.
It turns out that the eco-friendly actor has a soft spot for cats, and has a gaggle of rescue kitties at home. He told Eonline, “I’ve got a number of them and sometimes that number fluctuates because there will be a rescue that’s fostered a little bit. There’s a lot of fur.”
So just how does a busy guy like Somerhalder manage to take care of all those wayward felines? “Ideally, I need to get them to a clinic first,” he told E!. “There’s an amazing clinic here in Atlanta, Pets Are People Too. These guys take care of all my animals. We get [strays] there and get them healthy because I don’t want to take them back to my pride and get my kids sick.”
Altogether now: Aww!
Of course, this isn’t the first time Somerhalder has stepped up for animals. Last year he petitioned Congress to protect a number of species, and also spoke up on behalf of leatherback turtles.
His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. On March 24th, Somerhalder is slated to receive the United States Humane Society’s prestigious Wyler Award at the organization’s annual Genesis Awards. Named for the late Gretchen Wyler, the award is bestowed each year “on a celebrity or public figure who has made news on behalf of animals.”
According to an HSUS press release, Somerhalder was chosen for the award because of his work spreading the word about animal welfare issues such shark finning, fur in fashion, and the Canadian seal hunt.
“Ian is the epitome of a new kind of advocate who leverages his fame and an array of media platforms to draw public attention to animal protection concerns and other issues that he cares deeply about. From addressing Congress to making TV appearances to regularly blogging to informing his million-plus followers on Twitter, Ian is a major voice and force for animals and a most deserving recipient of The Wyler Award,” says Beverly Kaskey, senior director of The HSUS’s Hollywood Outreach and executive producer of the annual Genesis Awards.
And Somerhalder is both gracious and humble about the honor. “The tireless efforts of The Humane Society of the United States to protect animals around the world has always been an inspiration to me and I’m honored to be recognized with this year’s Wyler Award,” he said.
But that’s not all: when E! suggested that perhaps Somerhalder might want to take his love of animals all the way with one of PETA’s famous nude shoots, he responded with, “Being naked is good.”
Get on that, PETA.