Remembering Bob Barker’s Legacy of Animal Advocacy
The Price Is Right host, who died last week, famously said, “Nothing gives me quite so much joy as when people tell me they've had their pets spayed or neutered.”
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Bob Barker, the legendary host of the longest-running game show in history, The Price Is Right, died Saturday at age 99. His legacy as an animal advocate is inextricable from his long career as a TV personality: From the 1980s through his last show in 2007, Barker would end each episode of The Price Is Right asking viewers to “help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered.”
“There are just too many cats and dogs being born,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “Animals are being euthanized by the millions simply because there are not enough homes for them. In the United States, there is a dog or cat euthanized every 6.5 seconds.”
When it came to animal welfare, Barker wasn’t all talk. In 1987, he stepped down as a host of the Miss USA Pageant when the producers refused to remove fur prizes from the competition. In 1994, Barker founded the DJ&T Foundation, which raised money for free and low-cost spay and neuter clinics; overall, the DJ&T Foundation has donated millions of dollars to clinics, shelters, rescues, and park facilities.
Barker used his The Price Is Right earnings to donate $1 million to Columbia Law School to support the study of animal rights, another million to The University of Virginia Law School, and smaller donations to Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and more educational institutions. He provided $5 million to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which used the money to purchase a ship (which they named MY Bob Barker) to stop Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean. His name similarly adorns the Bob Barker Building, one of PETA’s Los Angeles office spaces which Barker donated two million dollars to the purchase of.
Barker was able to see a change in his lifetime — thanks, in part, to his lifelong advocacy and compassionate use of his platform. As The New York Times reported Saturday, “Estimates show that the number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters has been reduced to a fraction of what it was in the 1990s, at least partially attributable to ‘the drive to sterilize pet dogs and cats,’ according to a 2018 study.”
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