Doris Day's animal foundation celebrates late star's 100th birthday with drive to help pets in need

Doris Day’s animal foundation celebrates late star’s 100th birthday with drive to help pets in need

For many people, America’s sweetheart will always be Doris Day, the singer of classic songs like “Que Sera, Sera” and one of the biggest box-office stars of the ’50s and ’60s.

Her famously wholesome image extended to her real life as well: the star was famous for her deep love of animals, and spent decades advocating for them through a number of charities and organizations.

1960: American actor Doris Day with mutt co-star Hobo on the set of director Charles Walters’s film, ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’. Also pictured is an unshaven toy poodle standing up on his hind legs. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Day passed away in 2019, but her legacy as an animal rights advocate lives on. Now, in honor of her 100th birthday, the animal foundation that still bears her name is hoping to raise money for pets in need.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) is a nonprofit the star founded in 1978. It has been operating for decades, and Day was directly involved until her death at the age of 97. The charity offers grants to nonprofit animal organizations, including animal rescues, spay/neuter programs and programs that allow seniors to keep their pets.

#DorisDay100 Challenge

April 3 this year will mark what would’ve been Doris Day’s 100th birthday, and the charity is hoping to honor the actress’ legacy by raising a lot of money for animal causes.

According to a press release from the foundation, DDAF is launching the “#DorisDay100 Challenge,” calling on fans to donate in her memory between April 1 and April 3, with the goal of raising $100,000.

Doris Day, US actress and singer, wearing a light blue, short-sleeved woollen blouse, with two dragonfly brooches, circa 1955. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

In addition to making a donation, fans are asked to upload “a picture or video which demonstrates how they are carrying on the legacy of Doris and her enduring passion for animal welfare” with the hashtag #DorisDay100.

Donations will help go to a very urgent cause. The DDAF is matching donations up to $100,000 which will go specifically to help animals effected by the war in Ukraine.

The foundation shared a video featuring dozens of celebrity supporters calling on support and wishing the late Doris Day a happy birthday, including Tony Bennett, Kaley Cuoco, Dick van Dyke, Carol Burnett and even the late Betty White.

The campaign is similar to the “Betty White Challenge” that fans started in January, in honor of the Golden Girls star’s 100th birthday, just weeks after she had passed away.

That campaign was a big success, with animal rescues across the country receiving increased donations on January 17.

Hopefully, this tribute to Doris Day will prove to be as successful.

Doris Day, advocate for animals

Doris Day was one of the biggest stars of her era, launching from a successful music recording career in the big band era to being one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the ’50s and ’60.

She is best remembered for her films opposite Rock Hudson, including her Oscar-nominated role in Pillow Talk. She is also known for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much, which introduced Day’s signature song, “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” She also starred in her own popular sitcom.

But Day was almost as well known as a tireless advocate for animals. Her interest in helping pets reportedly came from a sad personal incident: she received her first dog, Tiny, as a 15-year-old while recovering from a car accident. But when she took Tiny for a walk without a leash while she was still on crutches, the dog ended up getting loose and being killed by a car.

(Original Caption) “Since you’re such a good doggy, suppose you just sit up here and have your picture taken?” purrs Doris Day to this fortunate canine. Oh for a day’s life in the day of Doris Day!

According to DDAF, Day felt she had “betrayed” Tiny by not being more careful and dedicated her life to rescuing animals.

Day was so well-known for her love of animals in Hollywood that she was nicknamed the “Dog Catcher of Beverly Hills,” going out and rescuing stray animals and getting her fellow stars to adopt.

(Original Caption) Segio Fantoni, Doris Day and Rod Taylor are shown on the set as they amuse themselves with a wolf between scenes of Do Not Disturb in which the trio co-star.

Another incident that inspired her to take up the cause was filming The Man Who Knew Too Much in Morocco in 1956: according to PETA, she became distressed after seeing how the goats, horses, cows and other animals used in the filming were treated on set. She refused to continue working until they got better treatment, and set up a feeding station for them and supervised their care.

Day was also among the first stars to condemn the use of fur in fashion, appearing in anti-fur newspaper ads alongside actresses Mary Tyler Moore, Angie Dickinson and Jayne Meadows.

CARMEL CA, – JULY 16: Doris Day with one of her dogs at a press conference at the dog friendly hotel she owns in Carmel, California July 16, 1985 ( Photo by Paul Harris/Getty Images )

She started the Doris Day Pet Foundation in 1978, which evolved into the Doris Day Animal Foundation. She also formed the Doris Day Animal League, a non-profit lobbying organization, which later merged with the Humane Society of the United States.

Another lasting impact Day had was founding “Spay Day USA” in 1995 to promote the spaying and neutering of animals. The annual event continues as “World Spay Day,” held on the last Tuesday of every February.

She also helped start a sanctuary for abused and neglected horses, the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center.

She remained an active and passionate champion of animal rights until her death in 2019. Even after her passing, her legacy is still used to help animals: a posthumous auction of Day’s belongings raised $3 million for animal charities in 2020.

Doris Day dedicated a huge part of her life to helping animals, and we’re glad to see her legacy has continued after her death.

We hope her foundation receives many donations from fans on her 100th birthday, which will go far in helping animals including those in Ukraine.

Please share this story if you love Doris Day to help spread the word!