“I’m there when puppy mill rescues are brought back to the League; I help with the clean-up process and get them ready to be adopted. So really it’s all encompassing for me.”
Since childhood Beth Ostrosky Stern (TK name) had an inkling that she’d devote a good portion of her life to animal rights. The model and North Shore Animal League America spokeswoman grew up surrounded by rescued cats and dogs, not to mention chicks and guinea pigs, in her Pittsburgg home. “I think it’s in my blood,” she said in an interview with Haute Living. “My mom, my dad, my two brothers— we’re all animal lovers. I think we love animals more than most people.”
But Ostrosky Stern’s route to NSALA was a circuitous one. She quickly built an impressive modeling career upon arriving in New York, and it was those runway skills that led her to NSALA. “It happened by accident,” she says, when her agency booker mentioned that NSALA had requested models in couture gowns to hold adoptable puppies at its annual luncheon (TKyear). Any doubts her booker had about Ostrosky Stern’s comfort melding couture and canines were allayed that day: “I didn’t leave the runway until every last animal was adopted,” she says.
Port Washington-based NSALA already had a sterling reputation, having grown into the world’s largest no-kill animal shelter since its humble beginnings in 1944. But Ostrosky Stern’s (TK) practically genetic devotion to the animal rights cause, combined with her fetching looks and high fashion profile, made her an obvious candidate for league ambassador. (As for the contentious methods deployed by PETA in its campaign against high fashion’s love affair with fur, Ostrosky Sterns says, “everybody has their way of spreading the message… But at the end of the day we are all united in our love for animals.”)
That she was dating King of All Media Howard Stern at the time—the two have since married—and could broadcast NSALA’s message to his millions of radio listeners made her all the more TK an advocate. Mr. Stern is a notorious germaphobe (among other shock jockey things), but sheds his neuroses around animals. “He’s hands on with the pets as much as I am,” says Mrs. Stern (TK Name). “I think he has a less phobia of animal germs than he has of people.” The couple own Bianca, a bulldog whose 10th birthday they marked by tattooing her name on their arms.
If such fervor suggests that Bianca monopolizes Ostrosky Stern’s (TK) animal affections, consider the work, much of it unglamorous, she puts in at NSALA, outside of luncheons and media appearances. “I’m there when puppy mill rescues are brought back to the League; I help with the clean-up process and get them ready to be adopted. So really it’s all encompassing for me.”
Ostrosky Stern and NSALA”s has extended beyond Long Island the metro New York region with emergency efforts in areas struck by natural disasters. Shedding a light on the animal toll wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita demonstrates the scope of the league’s influence, and has brought some very welcome surprise guests into the Stern home. “Howard and I adopted a seven-year-old cat that was living in a shelter in Alabama when the [April 2011] tornado hit,” she says. So we went to the shelter that was demolished, expecting to not see one animal alive and there was a cat walking around the rubble. I was there when that cat arrived in Port Washington just a couple days later. I fell in love with him, he had severe pneumonia and they didn’t think he was going to make it. And I told them (5:20) he was going to come home with me.”
Ostrosky Stern discussed disaster preparedness in her 2010 book “Oh My Dog,” and is sensitive to the subject since the East End home she shares with her husband is right on the water and the first to be evacuated in extreme weather. [[As for another Hamptons idiosyncrasy—the instances of summer interlopers abandoning their pets at season’s end— Stern says she is “absolutely appalled that anyone would even think about doing such a deplorable thing. I dare anyone who has done this to tell me to my face!]]
NSALA never strays from its cause, and Ostrosky Stern is a tireless representative of it. She’d hosted the 2012 Bideawee Gala raising money for animal welfare the night before we spoke to her, having subbed in at the last minute when Entourage star Adrien Grenier withdrew (and provoked Howard Stern’s on-air ire the next morning). And she would be attending a NSALA luncheon the next day.
As for the long-term future, she’s not averse to expanding the animal component of her and Mr. Stern’s family. “Bianca deserves all of my attention right now, but down the line I’m willing to open our home once more.” Drawing inspiration from NSALA, which she calls “the best part of [her] life,” she ends by saying that in five years she’d like to open her own shelter in the Hamptons.
It’s just so rewarding. It’s the best part of my life, it really is.
You know everybody has their way of spreading the message. ..I just know the way that I like doing it. But at the end of the day we are all united in our love for animals.