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Katherine Heigl at her Badlands Ranch with a chicken and her rescue dog, Gracie Lou.

Every day, 9,000 unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters across the United States. Many of the dogs that are put down are pit bulls, a breed that has been negatively characterized.

However, thanks to the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, some of these misunderstood canines are getting a second chance at an Oakley ranch owned by a member of the Hollywood elite.

The foundation was launched in 2008 by Oakley-area residents Katherine Heigl (star of Grey’s Anatomy, The Ugly Truth, and Knocked Up) and her mother, Nancy, to honor their brother and son who died in a car accident in 1986 at the age of 15. Jason’s love for animals is reflected in the foundation’s mission, which is to “eliminate the needless suffering inflicted on animals by human cruelty, indifference, and ignorance.”

The foundation is housed at the Heigls’ Badlands Ranch and is overseen by Troy Graser, a canine care and rehabilitation liaison. “Most of the pit bulls we receive have some sort of unfortunate background,” Graser says. “But they all can become really good dogs.”

Dogs sent to the Badlands Ranch finish up their training before they are, hopefully, adopted into new homes, Nancy says. “They just need to learn some good manners and a little discipline and structure,” she says. The ultimate goal, Nancy explains, is to rehabilitate as many rescues as possible and help those animals find their forever homes. “Rescue is extremely important, as is spaying and neutering,” she says. “The number of cats and dogs that are euthanized every day is completely unnecessary and preventable. We can solve this. Many purebred dogs need to be rescued, too. Don’t buy animals.”

In addition to the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, other local pet adoptions include Nuzzles & Co and Summit County Animal Control

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