'Race for the Rescues' Benefit Goes for Drama, Thanks to Y&R Star Sean Kanan

'Race for the Rescues' Benefit Goes for Drama, Thanks to Y&R Star Sean Kanan
Courtesy Sean Kana

10/02/2009 AT 02:00 PM EDT

When The Young & The Restless star Sean Kanan caught that initial glance of his dog Nikki seven years ago, there was an instant connection. "The Brittany Foundation would bring dogs up for adoption to a street fair near my house every other Sunday," he tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I kept seeing this dog there – she was there several times – and eventually decided I wanted to adopt her." After a few visits with the black Labrador-pit bull mix (above), the Foundation decided it was a perfect match. "Now, Nikki is one of my best friends. She's just an incredible source of love and happiness for me."

Those joyous feelings of dog ownership influenced Kanan enough to step up as a co-host of this weekend's Race for the Rescues, a 5K run/walk taking place in Los Angeles on Oct. 4 to benefit a variety of area rescue groups. Cats and dogs from local shelters also will be available for adoption at the event.

"My role is to be an ambassador, along with my co-hosts (Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba and model/actor Albert Reed), and try to raise the level of awareness and necessity surrounding pet adoption," Kanan says. "Thousands of animals are put to sleep each year because we can't find homes for them. It's important for people to consider this when getting a pet. I see on a daily basis how important it is."

Over the past three years, Race for the Rescues has raised more than $200,000 for its causes and saved countless pets from facing euthanasia. Organizers – and Kanan – hope to top that this year with fundraising events that include a celebrity auction and fashion show. "This event, and the adoption of my dog, has turned my thinking around," he shares. "I want to bring my wonderful adoption experience to the table for others to learn from. When you adopt a pet, you really are saving a life."

Meet some adoptable animals on PEOPLE Pets:
Duct-Taped Cat Gets Finds Home – And Inspires over 100 More Adoptions!
Adopt Me! Spotty Dottie Wants to Lick Your Face

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