Doris Day is an American actress and singer whose career began in 1939 as a Big Band Singer. She recorded her first hit, Sentimental Journey, in 1945, and started her association with Columbia Records in 1947. This lasted until 1967 and included the recording of 650 or more songs. She also appeared in 39 films over the course of her career, and was ranked the biggest box office star for the years of 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964. She ranked in the top 10 for ten years.
Among many awards that she received was an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Pillow Talk. She has been awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Legend Award from the Society of Singers.
Arguably her biggest hit was Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be).From 1968 to 1973, it was the theme song for the situation comedy The Doris Day Show, becoming her signature song.
Here it is.
I was so interested and impressed to find out recently (via my Facebook friend Duane – thankyou!) that Doris Day has an Animal Foundation. I’m rather behind the times She’s had it since 1978! At the age of 91, she is still actively involved in it and it is our pleasure to feature it. I’m so grateful to Lu Ann Smith, the Grant Coordinator and Lea Price, the Director of Communications, for answering my questions and facilitating this interview.
What inspired the creation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League?
A life-long animal lover and advocate, Doris recognized that through her own organization and celebrity status she could make a difference for the animals. When she initially founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation in 1978, Doris focused on finding homes for the too many animals that were being destroyed simply because there weren’t enough good homes, while educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. Over the years, the Foundation has evolved into today’s Doris Day Animal Foundation (www.ddaf.org), which has a much greater reach as a non-profit grant-giving charity that funds other 501(c)(3) organizations across the country that share DDAF’s mission of helping animals and the people who love them. In addition to assisting numerous organizations with various programs, such as spay/neuter, veterinary expenses, seniors programs, pet food pantries, wildlife rehabilitation and educational resources, some of DDAF’s ongoing “legacy” project funding includes World Spay Day (founded by Doris Day and our sister organization, the Doris Day Animal League, as Spay Day USA in 1995), the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center (located at Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas and operated by the Humane Society of the United States), the Duffy Day Life Saving Program (giving a second chance to older and injured animals that may otherwise face euthanasia), the Doris Day/Terry Melcher Scholarship at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and many others.
The Doris Day Animal League (www.ddal.org) founded in 1987, is a nonprofit citizens’ lobbying organization that works with U.S. Congress, government agencies and state and local officials to pass new laws and enforce existing laws that reduce suffering and improve the humane treatment of animals. In 2006, DDAL merged with the Humane Society of the United States for an even greater legislative voice.
Establishing the annual observance Spay Day USA in 1994, the Doris Day Animal League now partners with The Humane Society of the United States and continues to be a leading advocacy organization. What an amazing achievement. How does this work?
Doris Day and the Doris Day Animal League founded Spay Day USA in 1995. Over the years the event, held on the last Tuesday in February, has evolved into World Spay Day, with more than 40 countries participating. It is now under the auspices of the Humane Society of the United States, and the Doris Day Animal Foundation provides significant annual funding. All of the details can be found on the Humane Society’s website at: http://www.worldspayday.org/.
How can the public help? Do you have a volunteer programme?
The Doris Day Animal Foundation welcomes donations, which can be made from anywhere around the world via credit card or PayPal on our website, www.ddaf.org. There are also other free and easy ways to support DDAF through every-day actions, such as online searches and shopping via GoodSearch or Shop for Your Cause . All of the information can be found on our website under “Ways to Give”
As a grant-giving charity, we work out of a virtual office with a small staff to keep overhead low so donations can go directly to the animals. As such, volunteer opportunities don’t often arise. However, folks can spread DDAF’s mission by getting involved with animals shelters and rescue organizations in their own communities that may need assistance walking dogs or socializing cats; or by fostering one of the hundreds of abandoned animals found every year; or writing letters to legislators to support any one of dozens of pieces of worthwhile animal welfare legislation; or letting everyone know just why spay/neuter is so critically important to help end animal overpopulation.
Named after Doris Day’s rescued Maltese, the Duffy Day Lifesaving program provides funds for extraordinary costs associated with giving a second chance to senior and special-needs animals that would otherwise be euthanized. More information can be found here.
The foundation goes the whole hog and even includes a scholarship for young people – the UC Davis scholarship. What are the requirements for people wishing to apply for this?
The Doris Day/Terry Melcher Scholarship was established in memory of Doris’ son, Terry Melcher, and to honor the professionals at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. It is awarded to outstanding students pursuing an education in veterinary shelter medicine and helping disadvantaged pet populations. For further information on specific requirements and how to apply for the scholarship at UC Davis, go here.
Is Doris still quite involved today?
Doris continues to be actively involved in the operation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation and its decision-making process. She receives regular updates on the organizations seeking grants, as well as other animal welfare issues. She also enjoys personally keeping supporters and fans apprised of the latest news via her recorded founder’s messages on the DDAF (www.ddaf.org) and her personal (www.dorisday.com) websites, as well as occasionally signing her CDs, DVDs and other memorabilia for sale at her pet-friendly Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA, or auctioned on eBay, with all proceeds directly benefitting DDAF and the animals.
Are there any particular grantees or organisations that the foundation favours?
All of the Doris Day Animal Foundation’s grantees are carefully researched to make sure they qualify for one of DDAF’s grants. Funding is based on the greatest need and primarily extended to smaller non-profit organizations across the US that are struggling for financial support to allow them to continue the wonderful work they do in directly caring for the animals or implementing programs that directly help animals and the people who love them.
While recuperating from a childhood auto accident that nearly left her paralyzed, Doris’ dog, “Tiny,” helped her cope. “He never left my side, understood my moods and gave me the kind of companionship that only a dog can bestow,” Doris said. “It was during this time that I began a lifelong love affair with dogs, a sentiment known only to dog lovers – and cat lovers, too. Their affection and caring is a relief from tensions and anxiety.”
Is there anything else you would like to get across to our readers?
Nothing is closer to Doris Day’s heart than making this a better world for the animals. To join Doris in her mission to help the animals and the people who love them, please visit the Doris Day Animal Foundation website, www.ddaf.org, to learn more about the work we do or to make a donation.