Board of Directors
Doris Day, Founder and CEO
T. Robert Bashara, DVM, CFO
Anne Fogel, Director
Bill Glynn, Director
Lea Price, Director
Peter C. Bashara, DVM, Director
Doris Day, Founder and CEO
A life-long animal lover, Doris Day is one of the world's most-loved and most-honored women, as well as one of the most-dedicated, hard-working and recognized public servants and advocates of animal welfare and animal rights. Long before it was fashionable to have a cause or show compassion, Doris was protecting and defending the animals and the people who love them.
Born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1924 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Doris dreamed of becoming a professional dancer. After a serious auto accident dashed those dreams, she turned to singing, launching her professional career with Barney Rapp’s band at the tender age of 15, later joining Les Brown and His Band of Renown, with whom she had her first major hit, “Sentimental Journey.” Over the next two decades, Doris would go on to record more than 650 songs and make 39 films, being voted the Top Female Box Office Star four years in a row and remaining in the Top 10 for 10 straight years—a record unmatched to this day.
In 1968, Doris turned her attention to television, first with her hit comedy series, “The Doris Day Show,” which ran for five seasons, and later “Doris Day’s Best Friends,” focusing on animals and their welfare. Among her many honors, Doris received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1989; the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004; a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008; and most recently, the 2011 Los Angeles Film Critics Career Achievement Award. “My Heart,” Doris’ CD of previously unreleased material, reached the Top 10 in the UK and was among Billboard’s Top 135 in the U.S. in 2011. Although it has been decades since she last starred in a motion picture, her name continues to top the “most-admired” lists and polls, and her films are among the most-popular on television and DVD.
Upon leaving Hollywood and the entertainment industry behind, Doris turned her focus to helping animals full-time. But her love and dedication to “the precious ones” didn’t start there. While recuperating from the childhood auto accident that nearly left her paralyzed, her dog, “Tiny,” helped her cope. “He never left my side, understood my moods and gave me the kind of companionship that only a dog can bestow," Doris said. "It was during this time that I began a lifelong love affair with dogs, a sentiment known only to dog lovers – and cat lovers, too. Their affection and caring is a relief from tensions and anxiety.”
That lesson resulted in one of the most active and dedicated animal welfare volunteer efforts in history. Even in the early years, when animal welfare organizations were virtually non-existent, Doris was passionate about helping animals through her own grassroots efforts. In 1956 while on location in Morocco filming Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” she was appalled at the condition and treatment of the animals on and near the set and announced that she would not work until the emaciated animals received proper care. The production company promptly set up a feeding station for the goats, lambs, horses, cows, dogs, cats, burros and other animals. Doris, of course, supervised the care and feeding, and being happy with the results, she finished the movie.
Back home, Doris was rescuing dogs and cats on her own, often knocking on doors in the neighborhood in an attempt to reunite lost dogs with their owners or checking to make sure that those that were either reunited or in new homes were doing well and receiving proper care and attention. Never shy when it came to animal welfare, Doris didn’t hesitate calling President Ronald Reagan when she found out that his dog was exiled to the Western White House. In 1971, Doris became one of the founding members of Actors and Others for Animals, along with Richard and Diana Basehart, Jackie Joseph, Lucie Arnaz, and others who wanted to use their celebrity status to draw vital media attention to the plight of the animals and influence needed change.
As her personal rescue work became more and more overwhelming, Doris realized she could save even more lives with her own organization. In 1978, she founded the non-profit Doris Day Pet Foundation, focusing on finding homes for the too many animals that were being destroyed simply because there weren't enough good homes. In addition to fostering animals at her house, she was leasing kennel space, providing for veterinary care, and finding loving forever homes, with the help of a dedicated staff of volunteers.
Soon, Doris recognized that rescuing animals wasn’t enough. She knew she had to get to the root of the homeless pet overpopulation and do more to protect all animals, so to complement the Doris Day Pet Foundation, she formed the Doris Day Animal League in 1987, a national non-profit citizens’ lobbying organization. With Doris’ personal involvement in writing letters and calling legislators, DDAL soon became one of the most powerful voices for animals on Capitol Hill, responsible for landmark legislation on behalf of the animals. One of Doris’ and DDAL’s proudest achievements is founding Spay Day USA in 1995. Now known as World Spay Day, the effort today encompasses 46 countries. In 2007, the Doris Day Animal League merged with the Humane Society of the United States for an even greater legislative voice in Washington.
In the meantime, Doris realized that her Foundation could also have a much more far-reaching impact for the animals nationwide. What began as The Doris Day Pet Foundation has evolved from a local, grassroots rescue organization to the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF), a grant-giving organization, funding other nonprofit 501(c)(3) causes across the country that share DDAF’s mission of helping animals and the people who love them.
Today, in addition to overseeing her charities, Doris stays busy running her household filled with her own precious “four-leggers” and happily reading and responding to the tremendous volume of fan mail she continues to receive. She hasn’t wavered in her life-long dedication and hands-on involvement to make this a better world for the animals. She recently noted that she’s glad she retired from show business because she has never worked as hard as she does for the animals.
T. Robert Bashara, DVM, CFO
Dr. Bashara, a practicing veterinarian for more than 45 years, has always been a fan of Doris Day's music and movies. He and Doris share a dedication to animal population control, and Dr. Bashara was a particular advocate of the Doris Day Animal League's early Spay Day program. After many years of working with clients to educate them on the benefits of spay/neuter and well-pet care, he finally had a chance to meet Doris and some of her pets. In 2009 Dr. Bashara was asked to take over operation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation, following the death of its executive director. Today, he oversees the grantee-selection process and all financial aspects of the Foundation. He and his wife Jan have two Maltese, Missy and Lacey.