Celebrity Interviews

Beth O – This beauty loves all beasts

By Janice Brown

Beth Ostrosky is more than just a pretty face. Although much of her notoriety over the past couple of years has come from being Howard Stern’s fiancé, Beth made a name for herself long before she met the “King of all Media.” Her modeling career began at 9 years old, and it is easy to see why. Her long legs, big green eyes, and beautiful smile are mesmerizing. After spending time with her, it’s clear that her real beauty comes from within. Her genuine love of animals and people, along with her commitment to helping raise awareness for shelter pets, shines through in everything she does.

Four years ago, Ostrosky donated her time to a fashion show hosted by the North Shore Animal League America (NSALA) and found her calling; she would not leave the runway until every homeless animal was adopted. She became the spokesperson for NSALA shortly thereafter, and says that it is her favorite gig to date.

From the moment Beth walked in for our photo shoot at the shelter, it was clear that she was much more than just another celebrity lending her face for publicity. She walked down the hall, looked at an employee, and immediately blurted out, “Wow, you’re not fat anymore!” She quickly let me know that Jen recently had a baby, and our next stop was at Jen’s computer to admire baby photos of her adorable daughter. Beth “oohed” and “aahed” at each one, as she waved and chatted with other staff members who walked by. Everyone knows her, and they’re used to her hands-on approach, visiting the shelter often to check on the animals she loves and cares about so much.

How long have you been an animal lover?
My whole life. My parents instilled that in us since we were babies. When they brought us home from the hospital, they put us down on the ground to meet Suzie-Dog, their first baby, a mutt they had rescued a couple years before. Our whole life we rescued animals. My parents would take us to the local shelter just to show us what that was all about. It was just such a major thing in our lives.

So rescuing animals comes naturally to you?

You got your current dog, Bianca, before you began working with NSALA, right?
Yes. [Howard and I] were obsessed with English Bulldogs, so we spent two years researching breeders. We met the dogs, spent time looking to see what kind of environment these dogs were bred in, and when we went to the breeder’s house to see the pregnant Bulldog whose puppy we were promised, she had a whole house full of Bulldogs. And there was an adult Bulldog [who] kept coming over to Howard and me and sitting on our laps and licking us. I said to Howard, “This one is so special. I hope we get one [who] has a disposition just like this.” So [the breeder] said, “Oh, not that one, you don’t want one like that. She’s a bit ‘mentally challenged’ and she has a wiggle in her walk, so I can’t use her to breed.” Lo and behold, that was the dog who came home with us that day.

How old was she?
She was a little over a year.

Even better than a puppy, especially in New York City, with the midnight peeing and all that puppy energy!
Absolutely, yeah, she came completely trained. She stays, she doesn’t go on furniture, she doesn’t bark. I think she has a life of luxury compared to the life she would’ve had to live, and she’s just the perfect dog for us. But any other dog [who] enters our home from now on will be rescued. We’re heavily involved in the Long Island Bulldog Rescue.

We love breed rescue groups. Aren’t they doing amazing work?
Yeah! And I wasn’t aware of any of that. I just wasn’t aware! So from now on, if I want an English Bulldog, oh my God, I would rescue a Bulldog in a heartbeat. But then again, I just am such an advocate of the shelters. I tell people just don’t buy dogs from pet stores, because the puppy mill is this horrible never-ending cycle, that if you keep buying from pet stores, saying, “Oh, I’m saving a dog from the pet store,” of course that’s not true. The cycle just keeps on going. [Shelters] get purebreds in, too!

Yes, 25 percent of all shelter animals are purebreds.
Yeah, that was a statistic I didn’t know before I became so interested in North Shore.

So you’ve been working with them for four years?
Yeah, over four years, and it’s just been the perfect fit for me. There’s nothing I enjoy more than spreading the word and visiting the shelter and witnessing adoptions firsthand and encouraging people to go to the adult dog area because they get no love.

I know older dogs are a passion of yours. What draws you to them?
I’m such an advocate of people adopting older dogs. First and foremost, they’re usually trained, they sleep through the night, and you don’t have to go through the puppy stage of the needle teeth and the staying up and crying all night. A lot of times, their people have passed away, and they’ve lived this beautiful life with a family, and then there’s no one able to take the dog, and they end up in a shelter. It’s just heartbreaking.

You are running the New York City Marathon in November. Tell me more about that journey. It is a big commitment.
It’s huge! I needed an incentive to do it. I’ve been athletic my entire life, and there’s always that moment in November when I turn on the TV and I’m fascinated that these athletes run 26.2 miles. And I said, What would get me to do that? I love being active, I love running, but I don’t think I could ever commit to doing that. It just was insane to me, the idea. Then I would see Lance Armstrong on all these TV appearances raising money for his charity, and all of a sudden it just dawned on me, the day after the last marathon. I said out loud to Howard, “I am going to run the marathon for the North Shore Animal League.” From that moment on, I never looked back.

People can track your training, fundraising, and read your blog at GoBethO.org. Your goal is $262,000, right?
Yes, $262,000 in honor of the 26.2 miles I will be running for the animals.

That’s amazing. Your passion for animals goes beyond dogs and cats, doesn’t it?
Oh gosh, yes. Along with Howard, I am heavily, heavily involved with Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons. Every summer, there have been instances when Howard and I are taking a walk on the beach, and there’s a hurt danet, which is a bird, or else there’s a deer.

I recall a story Howard told on the radio about you rescuing a bird in the road.
Oh, the swan! He went for a landing, and because it was dark and he thought the reflection on the pavement was the pond, this beautiful swan nose-dove into the cement, and his beak was broken and crooked backward.

It happened right in front of you?
I didn’t see him land, but it was so obvious what had happened. He was so disoriented. He was walking with his beak, and it was turned the other way, and he didn’t know where he was going. He was walking in traffic, so I took this big tree branch and was keeping him to the side. I actually took a course on rescuing, but needed some help with this one. My friend Jim, who works at the rescue, came and scooped him up into the van and let him go in the pond he had tried to get into; it was a few feet over. They do so many amazing things. They really do. What’s more beautiful than the wildlife? That’s what makes the Hamptons so special.

I hear you and Howard just finished building a house there, with some special accommodations for Bianca?
Yes, we call it the “hog-wash.” It’s a little area in our garage designated for grooming. It’s funny, I told the builders that I wanted a special area to wash my dog, and that’s what they had written on the plans. I say, “Bianca, let’s go in the hog-wash,” and she goes running right to it. She loves it!

She’s got the life! Does she sleep in the bed with you?
She’s never been on furniture, and she snores so loudly, so we have beds [for her] in every room in the house except for our bedroom. But lately she’s been sneaking in, in the middle of the night, and you hear logs—just the loudest snoring. Howard, he’s just like, “Get the dog out of here!” Of course, I say, “You get her out.” Neither of us wants to get up, so she ends ups with a nice night’s sleep, and we don’t.

Does Howard share a lot of responsibilities with you with Bianca?
He’s really good with her. He’s really the busiest man in the world, and yet he always has time for her. On weekends, they share their special beach walks, which I’m not invited on.

But who picks up more poop?
That would be me. Are you kidding? I’m so her mother. I do all of her feedings and groomings. She’s sitting here right now with me. She’s always a foot or two away from me.

Does Bianca like to go on playdates? I know she has spent some time with other pets, like Katie and Billy Joel’s dogs.
Oh, she likes her Pug friends, Finola and Sabrina. They’ve been known to romp on the beach together.

Bianca is named after your friend, Rebecca Romijn. Did her name change after Rebecca got married again?
Yes. Right now it’s Bianca Romijn Stamos O’Connell.

So you kept the Stamos in there?
Yeah, that’s part of her identity—you can’t take away the Stamos.

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