Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 27, 2012

Growing animal rescue group is work of teen actor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The person behind one of the country's fastest-growing animal rescues can't even vote yet. And neither can most of the people leading its 10 chapters across the nation.

Lou Wegner, a 16-year-old actor and singer from Columbus, Ohio, started Kids Against Animal Cruelty when he was 14. The organization, which uses social networking to encourage adoptions at high-kill animal shelters, has helped 20,000 pets escape euthanasia in two years.

Lou said he became aware of euthanasia at shelters when he went to Los Angeles to make the short film "Be Good to Eddie Lee." The director suggested that he volunteer at an animal shelter.

Until then, Lou thought shelters were safe havens for strays and lost pets. "It was heartbreaking. All these dogs crying in their cages. Knowing they would be put down broke my heart," he said.

The group started with Lou and his friends, carrying signs on street corners, and a Facebook page with 47 friends. Now it has more than 12,000 U.S. members and 50,000 members, supporters and partner coalitions across the globe, he said.

The group gets a boost whenever Lou hits the red carpet or the airwaves. He had a small role in Clint Eastwood's "Trouble With the Curve," just finished a pilot called "The Thundermans" for Nickelodeon, and co-hosts a weekly Global Voice Broadcasting radio show called "Love That Dog Hollywood! Kids & Animals."

Brenda Barnette, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services who has been on the show, said Lou is "a well-spoken advocate for animals and for peer involvement." At events where he'll be photographed or when the paparazzi are lurking, he's seldom without a T-shirt with a Kids Against Animal Cruelty logo, she said.

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