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Betty White Legacy and Challenge

Betty White - David Shankbone [Flickr].jpg
David Shankbone [Flickr]
Betty White

     Growing up, I had parents who instilled in me a love for animals, especially pets.  So it’s no surprise that I care deeply for the four-footed furry friends that are part of my life.

     The same was true of Betty White, an actress and celebrity that was much more than a television personality and star.   Betty said her parents taught her compassion for all creatures.  In fact, she considered becoming a zookeeper at one point, before she went to Hollywood.  But she never lost her love for animals.

     Betty supported many animal welfare organizations, including the American Humane Association, serving on its board of directors.  She was a Hero Dog Awards judge and presenter, and served as chair of Be Kind to Animals Week.  For her 70 years of faithful support, American Humane awarded Betty their highest honor, the National Humanitarian Medal.

     Betty White served on the board of the greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and was a member of their board of trustees.  She was so involved that, in 2013, she was awarded the title of “honorary zookeeper”, the fulfillment of her childhood dream.

     After she passed away, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday, information has been made public about many of her generous efforts to help animals, such as secretly paying tens of thousands of dollars for a flight to evacuate animals from the Audubon Aquarium after Hurricane Katrina.

     This Monday, January 17th, would have been Betty’s 100th birthday.  It says a lot about Betty White that she lived to be almost a hundred years old, but many think she died too soon.  Her fans have come up with a Betty White birthday challenge, asking everyone to make a donation in any amount to an animal shelter or animal welfare group in Betty’s name on her birthday.

Challenge accepted, Betty.  I will make a donation, and I will try to follow the example you set, to be caring, active and generous, especially when I’m speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.