Jonathan Slavin Talks Animal Activism: "Walking Away Isn't An Option"

The 'Dr. Ken' star opens up about his life as a rescuer.
By: Aly Semigran
Jonathan Slavin and his dog

“If we’re interrupted by barking, I trust that you will understand.”

It’s easy to understand there’s a good chance you might be interrupted by any number of animal noises when chatting on the phone with actor and activist Jonathan Slavin (“Dr. Ken,” “Better Off Ted,” “My Name is Earl”). After all, the star has nothing short of a menagerie of rescues at his home.

Slavin and his husband are pet parents to what he lovingly refers to as “failed fosters.” When we chatted, he was under the same roof as four dogs, six cats, a pig, a bird, and a tortoise.

A sentiment any parent can relate to, Slavin says taking care of that many animals “has its challenges, but it’s absolutely worth it.”

Their household, he assures, is a harmonious one (“everyone gets along in this current crew”), but he admits that it can be a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding a balance between taking care of animals in need and yourself. “You have to find that balance or else everything will feel futile all the time.”

Slavin, who has been caring and fighting for animals all of his life, says that when it comes to being an activist and a rescuer, it’s an ongoing process. “You have to be constantly willing to learn and set your parameters to meet their needs.”

He admits that when he first began as a rescuer, he was “a bit neurotic” when it came to round-the-clock worrying about the animals in his care, but has since learned it’s about finding a happy middle. “They are resilient,” he says. “They can thrive with proper love, good food and a warm bed.”

Now, Slavin’s MO for taking care of animals is simple: “Are you safe, and is your life awesome?”

In order to do this, he urges that education about each individual animal. He also wants fellow advocates to understand that the road can be long and often paved with roadblocks.

A proud vegan, Slavin says he can be met with aggression by those who don’t understand the cause he is fighting for. “We live in a world where denial of what we are consuming is encouraged,” he says. All he hopes for, he says, is that that others “respect our choices to not condone the cruelty to any animal.”

Slavin understands that the work of an animal rescuer and activist is never actually done, but he’ll do what he can, when he can, for as long as he can.

“If I’m in a situation to help an animal, I will always help,” he says. “I know there’s a million animals that will never cross my path that I cannot help, but the ones that do … I will do everything I can.”

Image via Russ Levi Photography