Jena Malone just proved to be one lucky dog’s best friend.
On April 4, the 37-year-old Hunger Games actress helped come to the rescue of a small leashed dog, a terrier mix named Champion, who was allegedly being abused by a man on a Hollywood street. The suspect, Kendall McKinney, 29, was later arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty—and had already had a no-bail warrant out for his arrest, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told E! News.
Malone tweeted, “This was really scary. I saw a man kicking repeatedly a small dog on the sunset, yanking him up in the air and absolutely choking the dog. I yelled at him to stop from my car but he wouldn’t. I got out of my car to try and get the dog but he started running.”
That’s when the actress sprang into action, she said in an on-camera interview with NBC Los Angeles.
“I pulled over and started chasing him,” said Malone who was later shown cradling Champion. “Because it’s absolutely not OK.”
She tweeted, “So I started chasing him. I saw other people watching on the street upset , as they must have seen the same abhorrent behavior I witnessed , so I tried to signal a man in an orange vest to run with me to chase him.”
The LAPD spokesperson said a group of people confronted McKinney after witnessing him kicking, beating and choking the dog. The man attempted to punch one of the witnesses but missed and was then punched back, after which the group subdued him before the police were called. NBC Los Angeles aired footage of several people, not including Malone, confronting the man, with two appearing to beat him on the ground.
“At this point I held back and let them take the lead as I have no business trying to restrain a full grown man,” the actress tweeted. “I went back to get my car( it was still running ) and drove to see if they caught him.”
Malone added that she “pulled over to make sure that dog was going to be cared for.”
While still on the ground, McKinney told the outlet on-camera, “That’s why I did it, it’s my mother’s dog and he should obey me.” He added that the pet was “alright” and that there was “nothing wrong with him.”
“I waited with dog til another cop came to take them to the hospital,” Malone tweeted. “The dog was covered in filth and looked like it had been not taken care of for months.”
Champion, who was microchipped, was later reunited with his owner, Kelly McKinney, 50. A GoFundMe page set up to help pay for the dog’s medical bills states that the pet “went missing for 5 days” before he was rescued.
“Many of you know his family, considered local heroes in the community as champions for the underprivileged, each week running a food bank and donations center,” the page states. “Please donate what you can to ensure sweet Champ has the best chance for recovery. The McKinney family thanks you for your concern, prayers and generosity.”
On Thursday, April 7, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced that Malone will receive its Compassionate Action Award for her efforts. “When Jena saw that a dog’s life was in danger, she dropped everything to race to his rescue,” PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. “PETA is certain that her selflessness and kindness will inspire many others not to be silent in the face of cruelty to animals.”
—Reporting by Beth Sobol
(E! and NBC Los Angeles are part of the NBCUniversal family.)
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