There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Howard Stern. And though faithful fans of the shock jock are aware that he's actually at heart a charming and thoughtful guy (how else would he have landed his beautiful wife, Beth?), his haters would be amazed to learn that he's got a soft spot for animals.
While taking part in Purina's Better With Pets summit, Beth opened up to omg! about how her and Howard's lives were changed for the better when they began rescuing cats and kittens from municipal shelters; spots where euthanasia is the fate awaiting those unclaimed. After fostering the kittens for 3 to 5 weeks, the couple works to place the pets in good homes — many of which belong to Stern fans.
"Howard spoke about them on the air, he photographed them, he named them," explains the model/actress/pet advocate, noting that they've had as many as 15 foster kittens living with them (at one time). "I nurtured them … and then the applications started pouring into his website. We found stellar families for our first litter of six. Now it's 47 kittens later — and we're still doing it."
Since Howard, 59, is a bit of a germaphobe — and the couple already had four adopted cats residing in their home — how did Beth, 41, convince him to take in more furry friends?
"Well, I scoop the poop out of the litter boxes," she laughs, adding that, "There was no convincing. After Bianca [our beloved bulldog] passed away, I said I really feel the need and the desire to foster now. I have work to do in bringing more awareness to how great cats are as pets. And [Howard] was on board with me from the second I mentioned it to him. He's been my partner in this and I could not have done this without him. He cuddles them, he kisses them, and he cries when we say goodbye. He's truly incredible."
And though he's got a pretty busy schedule, the "America's Got Talent" judge takes great pride in naming the majority of the kitties they welcome into their home.
"Some of the names he comes up with are ridiculous," she says. "Tarzan, Kemosabe, Tonto, Herman and Lily from 'The Munsters.' They're all from his favorite TV shows."
While it's "torture" parting ways with their fosters, there was one furry feline they just couldn't say goodbye to — a blind cat named Bella who came to stay with them after they fostered her kittens and she underwent eye surgery. "[Since she's blind,] she learned our house by smell and touch. She learned who we were, and she just really bonded with Howard and me and my other four cats. Howard and I looked at each other the night and we were like, 'How can we let her go?' And it was at that moment where we said she's not going anywhere. Bella Stern, welcome to the family!"
The couple also has big plans to continue their work with the North Shore Animal League in Long Island, New York, where they are raising money to build a second story — named Bianca's Furry Friends — at the facility. "It's going to be a cage-free cat habitat for the cats that are up for adoption. The cats are going to be healthier and happier and I think living a lovely life until they're adopted. And then it's going to free up the entire downstairs for more puppy mill rescues and adult dog rescues. So it's a win win for dogs and cats."
As for the upcoming holidays, Beth reveals that she and Howard usually spend Christmas Day alone. "I'm going to savor the time we have together [before the next 'AGT' season starts], so we'll probably just be staring at each other at the house with foster kittens crawling all over us."
To support the North Shore Animal League save the lives of more homeless animals, pick up a calendar featuring photos of rescue pets with Beth taken by Howard himself.