updated 02/27/2013 AT 8:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/01/2013 AT 2:00 PM ET
Best known for her role in 2010’s The Last Exorcism, actress Ashley Bell, who returns in the movie’s sequel The Last Exorcism: Part II, out March 1, is a passionate animal lover who spends her free time fostering animals in need. Right now, her L.A. home is a temporary haven for close to a dozen rescues – and, thankfully, her permanent pal, cat Harrison, doesn’t seem to mind the extra roommates.
In her first PEOPLE.com blog, she reflects on how the lovable kitty came into her life, and the work she’s done with the Delta Rescue of Acton, Calif.
You can find her on Twitter @OfficialAshBell.
Don’t worry. Despite the fact that you saw me smash a cat with a camera in my last film, The Last Exorcism, in real life, I’m an animal lover. Thanks to movie magic, that little guy is alive and well and signing autographs in New Orleans. And this week, my devil-possessed alter ego returns in The Last Exorcism: Part II.
Growing up in Santa Monica, I had eleven brothers and sisters, all spayed and neutered, possessed (he-he) with horrible breath and all of them rescues.
How does one explain the feeling you get when you save an innocent creature? Time and time again I am overcome by the unconditional love animals have returned to me when they are treated with care and respect. I hope Harrison, my cat, is reading this.
Harrison came to me through a friend who found him on her doorstep. She learned he had been adopted from a shelter, and after a year, was dumped by his family. Not lost, not escaped dumped! When I learned that if I didn’t keep him he would be returned to the shelter, my foster home became his forever home.
Being responsible for Harrison has created a new level of selflessness I hadn’t expected, and I love this feeling! Over the months that Harrison’s been living with me he’s gone from street thug to snuggling in my armpit and taking up most of my bed. You give love, you get love. Harrison knows he doesn’t have to fight anymore, he’s finally safe.
Imagine what Leo Grillo, the founder of Delta Rescue must feel with the 900 dogs and 600 cats he rescued that now thrive on his 115-acre sanctuary in Acton, Calif. I had the privilege of visiting this haven, and I’m still reeling from the work and creative energy that’s gone into building this beautiful sanctuary.
Leo rescues abandoned dogs and cats found in the wilderness and gives them their forever home. He said that the average stay in a home for a cat or dog in America is 2.5 years until they’re turned in to shelters or out on the street. Every year Leo provides a Christmas stocking filled with goodies for each of his orphans. This year, I was fortunate enough to help him hang a stocking on each kennel. I played, and gave treats to Bandit and Chaos, two humongous war dogs that Leo rescued from Afghanistan. Talk about an amazing experience!
The holidays may be long over but the giving doesn’t have to stop. You can sponsor a Delta rescue pet, provide blankets and toys at shelters, donate to a rescue organization or take the leap and give a rescue animal their forever home. Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to make a difference this year?