Kim Basinger is diving into the role of an animal advocate, with the “L.A. Confidential” star calling on Congress to stop the Cruella de Vils of the world from stealing Americans’ pets.
The Academy Award-winning actor recently penned a letter to lawmakers — signed by more than 30 celebrities, including Billie Eilish, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlize Theron, Clint Eastwood and Courteney Cox, among others — urging Congress to pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act (H.R. 3187).
The bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) would require that dogs and cats used by research facilities come from licensed dealers, publicly owned pounds or shelters, breeders who raised or owned the animals for at least a year or places licensed by the Department of Agriculture.
“Just simply, it would protect stolen and abandoned animals from being sold for research experiments,” Basinger explained in an exclusive interview with ITK.
While she’s a longtime champion for animals, Basinger said she has a personal connection to the cause. In 2011, Basinger said her niece’s pet was stolen in her home state of Georgia.
“They came into her home and they got that pet,” Basinger recalled. “We never could locate these dogs.”
Despite the practice of thieves snatching pets and selling them to research labs being brought to light decades ago by a 1966 Life magazine exposé called “Concentration Camps for Dogs,” a bill permanently outlawing the move has languished for years in Congress.
Failing to stop such sales, according to Basinger, gives “licenses to people to steal animals in any way they can, and devastate homes. And God only knows what these animals go through.”
She noted a high-profile 2021 dog napping, when Lady Gaga’s dogwalker was shot and a pair of the singer’s beloved French bulldogs were taken in Los Angeles. The missing dogs were eventually returned and five suspects were arrested, with the Los Angeles Police Department saying at the time that the motive was gang-related.
“It’s like a lot of Cruella de Vils and her accomplices all over the place, stealing animals for research,” said Basinger of the infamous “101 Dalmatians” villain.
The 68-year-old performer said, working with the non-profit Last Chance for Animals, she personally recruited some of the high-profile entertainers who signed their names to the letter to Congress.
Uzo Aduba, Ireland Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Tyler Fergson, Kevin Nealon, Kris Jenner, Bill Maher, Eddie Vedder, Diane Warren, Priscilla Presley and Katherine Heigl all joined in endorsing Basinger’s plea to make a temporary ban on dealers who sell “random-sourced” animals to scientific research a permanent measure.
“Passing the Pet Safety and Protection Act will save countless animals — and so many pet owners — from a terrible fate,” the letter said.
Her aim, Basinger said, is that the combined star power of the celebrity signatories could help shine the spotlight on the cause.
“I would hope that maybe a congressman would say, ‘Oh, gosh, look who’s on this list. I love him. I love her in that movie.’”
While saying she’s not a “politically outspoken person,” Basinger added she’ll do “whatever it takes” to grab the attention of lawmakers, even in the hyper-partisan halls of Congress. She traveled to Washington in 2000 to voice her support for a bill outlawing elephants being used in circuses.
“This has nothing to do with division,” Basinger said of her latest push. “This has to do with recognition.”
“We can shut these bad people down forever,” exclaimed Basinger.
“There’s just no way that I don’t see this not being signed, or another year going into Congress or being presented and something not being done about it,” she said.
“It’s just one of those lower-hanging fruits. People are just not looking up too far and not looking in front of their faces — because this needed to be done 50 years ago.”