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Hilary Swank heard about 2 shelter dogs in need and stepped right in to help

Two puppies have gone from a busy rural animal shelter to living with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

by Arin Greenwood /

Two puppies have gone from a busy rural animal shelter to living with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank — who heard they needed a place to stay, and went and offered up her home.

Emily Gear was pretty convinced the email was a prank.

 Mulder and Scully went from a busy rural shelter to living with an Oscar winning actress. Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue

In her mind, there was no way the 42-year-old actress was getting in touch out of the blue to say she wanted to foster a couple of Gear's rescue puppies.

Gear is founder of Louie's Legacy, a New York- and Ohio-based nonprofit that gets dogs and cats out of shelters and places them in loving temporary foster homes until they can be adopted.

Two puppies from a shelter in West Virginia were coming into the group. A call was put out for a foster.

You never know who will step up in such a situation. Still, it was a real surprise when Swank — or, as Gear thought at the time, "Hilary Swank" — sent a message.

At first, Gear tells TODAY, "we weren't sure it was real."

But the evidence was quite convincing. Soon Gear found herself chatting with Swank about her longtime commitment to animal welfare, her foundation that brings kids and rescue pets together — and then, finally, the logistics of getting these lucky puppies out to California.

Last weekend, Mulder and Scully were flown out by two volunteers, who kept them in the cabin as — Gear's description — "carry-on pups."

 Mulder and Scully on their "freedom ride" from the shelter. courtesy of Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue

Swank has been updating Gear on a daily basis ever since. She says the puppies are settling right in to their fantastic new Los Angeles lifestyle.

Swank takes them out hiking, and they have started working with a trainer.

"They are doing great and she has nothing but good things to say about them," said Gear — adding that Swank's intention is to adopt one puppy and find another home for the other, but "she says she has no idea how she will choose!"

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Gear, meantime, is thrilled for Mulder and Scully — and hopeful that Swank is setting a great example by encouraging others to volunteer as fosters as well.

 Swank's foster puppies, Muller and Scully, are just two of the 2,000-some animals Louie's Legacy expects to have rescued this year. Each one of them will have lived in a foster home until their adoption. Louie's Legacy Animal Rescue

"Those who have the hearts and minds of the community, through celebrity status or otherwise, are in a special position to bring attention to the reality we and other groups face daily, and I do believe it will help," Gear said.

Louie's Legacy always needs more fosters. The group is on track to rescue some 2,000 cats and dogs in 2017 — this includes many who are old, or sick, and would face really tough odds getting out of a shelter otherwise.

Each one of these animals will have lived in a foster home until they get adopted. More shelter pets can be saved if more folks volunteer to foster.

You don't need to have an Oscar (or two) to take on this role, either.

"Yes, please, anyone apply!" Gear said. "We are always in need of more fosters. Every foster home means another animal saved."

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