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It's Pet Time with Teacher's Pet Doris Day

By: Cal Orey

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It's no secret that she is a devout animal lover. It's no secret that she is doing all she can to improve the quality of life for four-leggers. And she is succeeding in her mission to save the animals.

On April 3, 1922, Doris Day (a positive and forward-thinking Aries) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. While it has been more than 30 years since her last film, the big fan of animals is still remembered as "everyone's dream girl next door."
        
The actor was in a variety of films such as "Calamity Jane," "Pillow Talk," "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and "Teacher's Pet." In addition, Day is known for singing hit songs like "Sentimental Journey" and "Que Sera Sera," which won an Academy Award in 1956.
        
These days, the Carmel, Calif.-based Day has another full-time career – "caring for the four-leggers." Read on to find out exactly just how much – in her own words:

  • On being first smitten by a dog or cat:

    The story of "Tiny," my first dog when I was a young girl, always stays in my mind. His companionship was invaluable when I was a teenager and had been in a car accident. [The car was hit by a train and resulted in a compound leg fracture.] I was on crutches for more than a year. Tiny never left my side, understood my moods and gave me the kind of companionship that only a dog can bestow.
            
    It was during this time that I began a lifelong love affair with dogs, a sentiment known to dog lovers and cat lovers too. Tiny used to walk beside me on the pavement as I eased myself along on my crutches. One day, for no reason I could ever determine, he scampered away from me and into the street. Tiny was hit by a car and killed instantly. From that day forward I always felt deeply and passionately about dogs needing to be on leashes when in the street, which is just one of the issues on which I focus.
            
    Many people have also influenced me and continue to do so as I learn more. But, it was my experience with my own animals – starting with Tiny – that convinced me what my work should be. The common bond is love.

  • On how companion animals make you feel:
            
    My days wouldn't be complete without my four-legged companion friends. Their affection and caring is a relief from pressures we all face in everyday life. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful for the love and friendship they give me. I can't imagine life without my cats and dogs.

  • On finding homes for stray animals:

    It's not the dog's fault that he or she doesn't have a good home, and I tried to place them when I could. It's a heartbreaking and heartwarming job. There are great organizations across the country that try to match four-leggers with people, and it is very gratifying to see. I did more of this work in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, we need to work on a larger scale to protect all animals, and, reluctantly, leave the placing of animals to other organizations.

  • On the Doris Day Animal League:

    I formed the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) in 1987, a nonprofit citizens lobbying organization, to focus attention on legislative issues involving the humane treatment of animals. We work closely with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate both in Washington, D.C., and their home states and districts. Our goal is to pass laws to reduce the suffering of animals anywhere they are mistreated.

  • On the Doris Day Foundation (DDAF):

    The formation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) followed a few years later to help promote increased protection for animals in additional ways. This mission is accomplished through projects that empower individuals and organizations to educate and act on behalf of animals. The annual Spay Day USA campaign to end pet overpopulation is one of the largest examples, and other programs include encouraging students to read about animals in school. Next year's Spay Day campaign, taking place on February 26, 2002, will emphasize the problem of cat overpopulation in the United States, while still stressing the need to spay and neuter all pets.

  • On spaying and neutering pets:

    Every year, the DDAF organizes Spay Day USA to help curb the problem of pet overpopulation in the United States. Thousands of veterinary clinics, humane organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals across the nation work together to host special Spay Day events for the public. Some of the events are educational, explaining the health and behavioral benefits of spay/neuter, while most offer spay/neuter services onsite. Many Spay Day events include reduced cost spay/neuter services for low-income clients.

  • On your crusade for animal rights issues:
            
    Even before I retired from acting, I was well on my way to my second career, caring for the four-leggers. It has been my full-time career for more than 20 years now. I have a great life and feel that every animal has rights, too. My goal and the goals of the DDAL and the DDAF is to assure that every four-legger receive the best quality of life available.

    [Sign up to volunteer for Spay Day USA on February 26, 2002. For more information, call DDAF's Washington, D.C., headquarters at (202) 546-1761, or log on to www.ddaf.org/SpayDay.]

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