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2016: In Memoriam — Famous Dog Lovers

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As we get ready to say goodbye to 2016, DogTipper takes a look back at some of the famous dog lovers we bid farewell to this year. Although they may be gone, their acts of compassion live on.

The acclaimed author of Watership Down and The Plague Dogs (which shone a light on the plight of animals used in laboratory experiments), Richard Adams helped animals in need turn the page to a new chapter in their lives during his one-year stint as president of the RSPCA. An animal advocate all his life, shortly before his 90th birthday the writer penned a story for a book which raised funds for the Born Free Foundation.

A reality star with a big heart, “Big Ang” (Angela Raiola) of Mob Wives fame created a better reality not only for the Pit Bull puppy she adopted from Louie’s Legacy, but also other dogs in the care of the foster-based rescue organization by attending several of the non-profit’s fundraisers.

A photo posted by Mike Ruiz (@mikeruizone) on

A ‘brush’ with fame in the 1980s led a former wig maker for Madame Tussauds in London to part with a long-treasured lock of the late music legend David Bowie‘s hair in order to help a paws cause. Wendy Farrier, who had snipped off small portions of the rock star’s coif as a reference for a hairpiece for a wax sculpture of the Starman, decided shortly after Bowie’s passing to auction off the one remaining segment of strands, with a portion of the sale benefiting the Soi Dog Foundation, a non-profit which offers a new lease on life to dogs and cats in Asia.

Pro wrestler Chyna (Joanie Laurer) showed her support for National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition as the organization wrestled with emergency issues which affect both people and pets.

A Scottish comic TV star who tickled his fans’ funny bones for six decades, over the years Ronnie Corbett also put a smile on the faces of dog devotees.  The comedian was a proud pet parent to Baz (a Schnauzer mix) and Bobby (a Border Terrier mix), who were both adopted from Last Chance Animal Rescue in Edenbridge, England, and in the year prior to his passing the host of Ronnie’s Animal Crackers cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the center’s second branch in New Romney. Founded in 1986, the registered charity finds forever homes for dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.

Using her star wattage as a ‘Force’ for good, Carrie Fisher (along with her beloved fur baby, Gary) was among the animal-loving luminaries who gathered at the Chinese Embassy in London in June 2016 in order to present officials with a petition calling for the end of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The entertainment icon, who was one of 11 million compassionate souls who signed the Humane Society International petition, stated: “These poor dogs need us to fight for them. Every single one is as precious as my dear Gary, everyone of them is someone’s best friend.”

A finalist on the sixth season of The Voice, Christina Grimmie was a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. On the day her life was tragically taken the 22-year-old singer was participating in The Charity Champions League competition in the hope of raising funds for The Humane Society of the United States. Her fans rallying in her memory, the YouTube star won the competition’s $250,000 grand prize for her favorite cause.

As a tribute to the slain singer, The Humane Society of the United States established the Christina Grimmie Animal Medical Fund, which helps animals in critical need following their rescue.

Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, expressed the sorrow of animal lovers everywhere when he stated: “She didn’t just possess a beautiful voice– she was a beautiful soul who used her talents to spread a message that we humans should not mete out violence to animals. We will carry her message forward, despite the pain we feel.”

Florence Henderson, who starred as everyone’s favorite Mom in the classic TV series The Brady Bunch, used her acting chops offscreen to help companion animals who need loving pet parents.  The actress stepped onstage several times to perform in the unique theatrical experience Celebrity Autobiography, with funds raised for Stray Cat Alliance and Actors and Others for Animals.

An Emmy and Tony Award winner and President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), Ken Howard also proudly held the title of National Spokesperson and executive board member of The Onyx and Breezy Foundation for the Welfare of Animals. Established in 2004, The Onyx and Breezy Foundation provides funding and support for the rescue of companion animals who are facing their fate in kill shelters or puppy mills, spay/neuter programs, equipment for medical facilities, cancer research, medicine and equipment for dogs who serve in the military or on the police force, and much more.

Historical romance novelist Chelley Kitzmiller‘s passion for helping companion animals in need led her to establish Have a Heart Humane Society in 2010. The writer who helped so many dogs and cats turn the page to a new chapter in their lives passed away in November, and donations to her non-profit organization were requested to honor her memory.

Prog rock pioneer Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame once stated that: “…there is something particular about human cruelty towards animals which I find impossible to walk away from. I supposed rather like children, it is the helplessness and vulnerability of these creatures which adds shame to compassion and compels me to act.” The English singer/songwriter put a song in the hearts of animal lovers when he helped the Seychelles’ SSPCA Animal Rescue Funding appeal.

A pop icon with “Faith” in the future of our four-legged friends, in 2012 George Michael auctioned off a “Dog Wall” collage on eBay for a paws cause. Containing photos of his two four-legged friends Abbey and Meg as well as the canine companions of others who worked behind the scenes on his Symphonica tour, proceeds from the sale benefited The Mayhew Animal Home, a charity which has offered a new lease on life to dogs and cats in need for the past 130 years. Just one month before his untimely passing the performer (and other famous fans of Fidos including AbFab star Joanna Lumley, Morrissey, actress Miranda Richardson, Call the Midwife cast members Helen George and Pam Ferris and Doc Martin star Martin Clunes) joined with the UK non-profit Blue Cross to sign a letter urging the British government to create improved pet welfare laws.

Fans of rock ‘n roll and Rovers raised a glass to honor the memory of Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt, who passed away in late December. Earlier this year the British music icon (whose band was the first to take the stage at Live Aid) and his bandmate Francis Rossi paid a visit to the West London branch of Dogs Trust, the UK charity which is receiving five percent of sales of Parfitt and Rossi’s beer, Dog of Two Head (a brew named after the band’s 1974 album.)

In memory of a gold record-selling recording artist with a heart of gold, requests for donations to the ASPCA was made in lieu of flowers when Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell passed away.

She holds a place in pop culture history for providing the voice of the shy, tutu-wearing Henrietta Hippo in the 1970s children’s series The New Zoo Revue, and actress Hazel Sheremet will forever hold a special place in the hearts of animal lovers for her family’s request for donations in her name to the ASPCA to mark her passing at the age of 96.

Many families in New York City who have had to seek safety from situations of domestic violence have been able to take their cat or canine companions with them thanks to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ Marion Dougherty Safe Haven Fund. Named in honor of the late casting director Marion Dougherty, the fund was formed with help from actress Margaret Whitton (a star in the 1989 comedy Major League), who passed away in late 2016.

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