Beth Ostrosky Stern is a “born animal lover.” She jokes that when her parents brought her home from the hospital, she had to get approval from the dog, a rescued mutt, before she was welcomed into the family.
Ostrosky Stern inherited that passion and has been working with the North Shore Animal League America for more than four years, spreading the word about the benefits of rescuing pets from shelters. As a model, she first got involved with the league by walking the runway at the organization’s annual fashion show luncheon.
“I literally did not leave the runway until every puppy was adopted. I think at that point they saw my passion for animals,” Stern recalled. “Also, my name was really getting out there because I was with Howard”—that would be shock jock Howard Stern—“and so I think it was just a perfect fit.”
Ostrosky Stern, who spent last summer training for the New York City marathon, this year is focusing on writing her first book. She took a few moments to answer questions about pet adoptions, life on the Upper West Side and her beloved bulldog Bianca.
How do you not come home with new animals every time you visit the North Shore Animal League America? I gotta say that’s tough. Right now, with our hectic lifestyles, we only have room for one. But down the road when renovations are finished in our apartment and we’re more settled, absolutely, I want to adopt a lot more animals.
There’s a whole area at the North Shore Animal League of adult dogs, and it’s heartbreaking. A lot of these animals, their owners have passed away, so these perfect animals are sitting there at a shelter waiting to get adopted—people seem to walk right past them when they’re the best pets to get. They’ve already been through the puppy stage, they usually sleep through the night, they’ve had all of their vaccinations up to date and they’re perfect pets, already trained.
Is there a common misconception about adopting pets from a shelter rather than going through a breeder? I always want people to understand that any type of dog—if you want a dog, a cat, a puppy, a kitten—you can find them in a shelter. As a matter of fact, 25 percent of our shelter pets, or any shelter pet, are actually purebreds. So shelters are indeed the best paces to find a huge selection of healthy, happy pets and I urge animal lovers to avoid pet stores. A lot of times animals are supplied by the puppy mill trade where the dogs are bred under really inhumane conditions, and when you go to a shelter you’re saving a life.
Does Bianca come out with you in the city a lot? She does. She goes on errands with me; she’s a frequent shopper at Intermix. And of course we stop at the dry cleaners on the way on Columbus Avenue and she gets treats in there. Everybody seems to know Bianca. But I never take her to a store that you’re not allowed to have animals inside. So many people on the Upper West Side—I see it on a daily basis—tie their dogs outside of Starbucks or grocery stores and that’s just a recipe for disaster. There are so many animals that get stolen that way. A friend of mine went in to get milk with her baby, she tied her English bulldog to the bike fence right outside of D’Agostino’s, she came back and her dog was gone.
Did she get the dog back? We did. I got involved, I had Howard talk about it on the air, we got morning shows involved and thankfully it was a happy ending. So I tell people, if you’re going to leave your dog outside, make sure you have another person to stay with the dog.
Do you have any favorite childhood summer memories? Our family had a little beach house on Lake Erie—I’m from Pittsburgh—and so we would travel two-and-a-half hours to our little beach house, spend all of our summers there. And it was when I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss, all of my friends were there, the campfires—I think that that’s my fondest summer memory.
What’s your book about? My book is called Oh My Dog: How to Raise Your Pet to Be a Happy, Disciplined, Healthy, Fun and Friendly Ball of Love. People think because of my association with animal rescue that I’m an expert on dogs, and I’m so not an expert. I’m just passionate about telling people to adopt. So I’m going with the route of interviewing all the top trainers, all the top behaviorists, all the top vets, and putting together a book where I’m acting as the host of all of these questions that anyone would ever need to know when they bring a dog into their life. We’re expecting a March 2010 release.
Finally, a crucial question for the hottest season of year: Mister Softee or Pinkberry? I’m a Mister Softee person, because if you’re gonna do it, you might as well go for it.
Transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
About These Animals
The dogs featured in this year’s summer guide come from the North Shore Animal League America, the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world. Every year, the league places approximately 20,000 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens with new owners, and since 1944 has found homes for nearly 1 million pets.
The league has supported animals in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, and gives a home to dogs rescued from puppy mills, where animals are often bred under inhuman conditions (two of the dogs featured in these pages come from puppy mills).
We hope that if you decide to add a pet to your family this summer, that you consider adopting one from a shelter.
Thanks to everyone at the league who helped coordinate our shoot with the talented photographer Christopher Appoldt, and thanks to Canine Styles, which provided accessories. For more information, visit www.AnimalLeague.org and www.CanineStyles.com.
WEST SIDE SPIRIT SUMMER GUIDE 2009:
Trackback from your site.