April 26, 2010 12:36 AM

Singer Mya has a lot of experience with animals. Growing up “a little country girl” in Maryland, she had wild rabbits and squirrels in the backyard, adopted parakeets, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs … and eventually a dog. So it’s no surprise that she grew into an animal-loving adult, lending her famous name to the North Shore Animal League’s Tour for Life 2010.

Now in its tenth year, Tour for Life takes NSAL representatives on a 28-city trek across the United States to save animals stuck in shelters. “They spread the message nationwide,” Mya tells PEOPLEPets.com. “They enable families to adopt, educate them about spay/neuter programs and the dangers of puppy mills and talk about improving and enhancing needy animals’ lives.” The month-long event, now in its ninth year, culminates with a grand finale in New York City on April 27.

“Sometimes the popular thing to do is go to a breeder, and people aren’t aware of what’s going on,” Mya says. “Other people purchase dogs for breeding thinking they can make money, but they don’t realize the health risks, or consider pets already alive and living in shelters. I just want to bring awareness. When you’re briefed about this, you think twice about making those kinds of decisions.”

Mya, who has six rescue pets of her own, considers pet adoption healing. “It opens your heart in ways you never imagined,” she says. “And since I don’t have kids, they’re like my kids!” Mom to rescue dogs Rambo, Pepper, Tango and Bear, and cats Mellow and Journey, she relies on her family in Maryland to help out with walks and pet-sitting. “It’s quite a zoo, but it’s fun,” she shares. “Everyone has their own personality, and it’s hilarious to watch them interact.”

But what’s even more special is the feeling she gets from knowing she’s saved a life. “These guys bring a lot of joy and warmth to my life. They add balance,” she says. “They’ve made my home a loving place.”

Read more about the North Shore Animal League on PEOPLEPets.com:
Celebrity Apprentice Castoff Carol Leifer: Adopt, Don’t Shop!
Stars Put Pets First, Even on the Green Carpet, for N.Y.C. Charity Gala

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