A big hit for singer and actress Doris Day was the song “Whatever Will Be, Will Be.” However, she didn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to protecting animals. Millions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of her Monterey, Calif., home, listed recently for $7.4 million, will go to the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
Day died in May 2019 at age 97, leaving almost everything to the foundation. The house sits on nine acres and includes a kitchen dedicated to just cooking for her dogs.
The pampering by Day of rescued animals is stuff of legend. She cooked for her dogs in a kitchen specially for them. She had owned the home since 1980. The Wall Street Journal quoted people familiar with the situation saying Day had as many as 50 dogs on the property at some point.
Day’s animal rights work and fundraising for the cause is legendary. The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) was founded in 1978 as the Doris Day Pet Foundation with a mission to help animals and the people who love them. As a grant-giving charity, DDAF funds other 501(c)(3) organizations across the United States that directly care for and protect animals.
When she initially founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation, Day focused on finding homes for the too many animals that were being destroyed because there weren’t enough good homes. Her grassroots efforts resulted in her personally rescuing hundreds of animals over the years. In addition to fostering animals at her own home, Day and DDPF leased kennel space, providing for veterinary care, and finding forever homes for the increasing numbers of homeless pets with the help of a dedicated staff of volunteers.
Day became known as “The Dog Catcher of Beverly Hills,” often finding unwanted dogs dropped off at her gate. It was not uncommon for her to knock on neighbors’ doors in an attempt to reunite lost dogs with their owners or check to make sure those that were either reunited or in new homes were doing well and receiving proper care and attention. One star was famously quoted as saying, “We all had at least one of ‘those Doris Day animals.’ If you would see Doris on the street or at the studio, chances are you would end up with some homeless cat or dog Doris was sponsoring. She carried around photos of the animals who needed homes, and then she’d actually come over to inspect your house to make sure you were up to it.”
She formed the Doris Day Animal League in 1987, a national, nonprofit citizens’ lobbying organization, whose overriding mission is to reduce the pain and suffering of animals through legislative initiatives, education and programs to develop and enforce statutes and regulations protecting animals. In 1995, Doris and DDAL founded Spay Day USA. It’s now known as World Spay Day and is under the auspices of the Humane Society of the United States.
In 2007, the Doris Day Animal League merged with the Humane Society of the United States and the Doris Day Pet Foundation evolved into the Doris Day Animal Foundation, with which she was active until her death.