Though Betty White has left us, passing away at the age of 99 on New Year’s Eve 2021, our hearts will never forget the television superstar for her perfect timing and her love of animals. White’s death came just eighteen days short of what would have been her 100th birthday on January 17th.
Throughout the years, White has been there for us via movie and television screens, giving us a break from the real world with her comedy and her beautiful smile. The eight-time Emmy Award winner not only charmed multiple generations of people, but she also bettered the lives of countless animals with her tireless dedication to spreading the animal welfare message, volunteering, and funding programs. And to honor White’s legacy, you can continue her mission by getting involved with the #BettyWhiteChallenge. Plus, check out the iHeartDogs ‘Be Like Betty’ collection and feed 20 hungry shelter dogs with every purchase of a shirt or hoodie.
Betty White, Hero to Animals
When Betty White wasn’t blazing trails in the TV world, she advocated for animals, a passion she found early in life thanks to her parents’ love for animals. As White explained in her book, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t), her love for dogs was born when her father used to make and sell radios during the Depression, trading them for dogs when people didn’t have the cash to buy one. Having so many pups around made what she called a happy childhood even brighter.
In the introduction of her book Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, White wrote of her parents, “I am eternally grateful that they have passed much of that passion on to me.”
That early love of dogs and animals sparked her compassionate work to better the lives of animals. Something animal welfare groups and the furry ones in their care greatly appreciated for several decades. Thanks to White’s dedication and passion, more animals will find help and comfort for years to come in her name.
Decades Of Serving Animals
When the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens opened in 1966, White began volunteering her time to the animals in residence. She felt the animal enclosures needed improvement, and as she explained to AARP in 2011, “I’ve never been one to stand outside and criticize. I’d rather get inside and see what’s going on, see how I can help.”
And that’s just what White did. By 1974, she sat on the board of trustees for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association(GLAZA). But White didn’t stop there. She also served the Morris Animal Foundation for more than fifty years, serving as Trustee, Trustee Emeritus, and President Emeritus, while sponsoring studies to improve the lives and health of animals. Her work with animals was so encompassing, to list all White’s efforts would be impossible. Made of pure gold, her heart belonged to “anything with a leg on each corner.”
Saving Dogs and Cats
Exotic animals weren’t the only ones to find a better life because of White. She also gave her heart to domestic dogs and cats, working closely with the American Humane Society for more than 60 years and serving as a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind beginning in 2005. In 2006, she was honored as the City of Los Angeles’ “Ambassador to the Animals” for her decades spent saving animals. Also, because of White’s efforts, the animal rescue world saw implementations designed to improve health and wellness practices for animals.
Just one example, White funded pain management studies for animals in the 1990s with former Morris Animal Foundation executive director, Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, explaining, “Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge. You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.”
And as a mom to dogs and cats her whole life, White strongly believed in the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
White once shared, “If everyone took personal responsibility for their animals, we wouldn’t have a lot of the animal problems that we do. I’m a big spay-and-neuter supporter. Don’t have babies if you’re not going to take care of those babies. We don’t need more. We just need to take care of the ones we have. Take responsibility and breed kindness.”
How You Can Continue Betty White’s Work
Because of her decades of devotion to dogs and cats, rescues and shelters are remembering White with fondness and gratitude as she was one of the pioneers that made the rescue world what it is today. Within hours of her death, animal rescue groups saw donations start to pour in thanks to fundraising efforts created to honor White’s legacy.
To further White’s mission though she’s gone, social media has seen the rise of the #BettyWhiteChallenge. This challenge asks interested parties to donate $5 to their local animal shelters and rescues in White’s name to honor the late star’s 100th birthday on January 17th. If you want to give in White’s name, reach out to your local animal welfare groups for info about donations and volunteering. In doing so, you can imagine White’s brilliant and happy smile beaming just for you as you better the lives of cats, dogs, and animals of all make.
iHeartDogs ‘Be Like Betty’ Collection Feeds Hungry Dogs
In honor of Betty White, iHeartDogs brings you this collection of shirts and hoodies dedicated to her legacy. With each purchase of a hoodie or shirt, we’re donating 20 meals to hungry shelter dogs. So, grab one before they’re gone and know you’re honoring a legend while feeding dogs in need! #BeLikeBetty
#1 – Slouchy Shirts
#2 – Hoodies
Keep Betty White’s animal welfare mission alive while keeping cozy in one of these soft and comfy hoodies made to fill the food bowls of 20 hungry pups!
#3 – Premium Tees
Put On Your BettyWear and Post It Up
Show the world how much you love Betty White and dogs by posting pics of you in your BeLikeBetty wear alongside your dog. Tag it with #BeLikeBetty, and let’s keep her legacy alive! And don’t forget, for every purchase made, 20 meals will be donated to shelter dogs in need. Together, we can continue the wonderful legacy that Betty White started.
Feature Image: @bettymwhite/Instagram