Betty White is awesome!

Betty White's Pet Love coverBetty White’s Pet Love: How Pets Take Care Of Us
White with Watson

Submitter: I’m actually not submitting this for possible weeding. Okay, so it’s old and probably a lot of the addresses she lists in the back don’t exist any more. I’m sure people can come up with all sorts of arguments for not keeping it – but I can think of one for keeping it –


I’m actually submitting it to see if the amazing librarians can apply their skills to something in the book. The librarian where I work tried to help but we didn’t get far and I don’t want to have to drive all the way to LA to go through old papers just to satisfy my curiosity. See, Betty talks about something super sad that happened to her as a child. Apparently there was some evil person who threw meat filled with broken glass into random peoples’ yards. He was called The Hollywood Dog Poisoner. She was about 5 or 6 years old, which means this happened around 1927/1928. All we could find is an article about Bela Lugosi’s dog being poisoned by strychnine poisoned meat. (The vet managed to save the dog’s life, but Lugosi joined the hunt for the poisoner.) Betty says the poisoner of her dog was eventually captured, but can’t remember what happened to him (or her). I want to know what happened! After a bit, I thought, “Where can I find librarians from
all over the world who’d probably find the answer?” And I came up with you fine folks!

Also I wanted to share it because I love her blouse. I want one.

Holly: Thank you, submitter!  Anyone know about the dog poisoner? A quick Google search didn’t pan out for me, but I haven’t put more time into it (yet! I’m intrigued!)

Mary: I am also a Betty White fan from her days on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I actually remember reading this book when it came out.

Young Betty White with pets

Betty White with a leopard

Betty White's Pet Love back cover


  1. I searched the Los Angeles Times Historical database (from Proquest) and found a couple of articles on this topic. Here are a couple of citations:

    Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Feb 23, 1925;

    2. POISONING SUSPECT IS CONVICTED: Martin Volk found convicted of throwing deadly food into a yard with dog
    Los Angeles Times; Jun 27, 1925;

    Unfortunately neither article is very long or descriptive.

    Betty White for the win!

  2. There are several articles that pop up at in the 1929-1930 time frame, all in the Southern California area. For example, The Van Nuys News reports “Dog Poisoner Active Here: The vicious activities of a
    dog- poisoner in West Van Nuys was brought to the attention of local police this week by by Mrs. A. R. Cooper of 15114 Shennani Way who reported the
    loss of a Boston terrier May 1, and the near death of another of her dogs Thursday.” (05/20/1930) The San Mateo Times has a headline that says, “Dog Poisoner Busy, Claims Two Victims: Fiend Gives Strychnine to Family Pets; Police Hot on Trail; Clews Believed to Point to Guilty.”

  3. Wow, there are more than 400 articles in California newspapers about the Dog Poisoner, who fed strychnine to pets up and down the length of the state. There are still more articles going on into 1934 and 1935. I’m amazed we haven’t heard more about this.

    With this book in mind, I’m curious what other librarians do with outdated autobiographies. For example, the one and only autobiography of an Olympic athlete, published in 1989, or the first book written 50 years ago by a still-active movie star. Keep? Weed? Depends on if it’s still being used?

  4. Hi Mary & Holly.

    Checking this out, I think the original submitter may have the dates wrong.

    In my weird ecclectic searches, I found that Petey, the pup featured in the original “Little Rascals” shorts was poisoned in 1930. This was found in an article looking at whether Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer had become a victim of the “Our Gang” curse.

    I also found the Bela Lugosi reference (1935)

    And a mention in as a story called “Dog Poisoner” by Ruth Comfort Mitchell from a Ladies Home Journal from September 1926. I can’t get to the article, because the PDFs keep killing my network’s bandwidth.

    So maybe. Anyone else help out?

  5. I hope the Betty of today would think it best to leave leopards alone instead of torturing them with celebrity visits.

  6. The dog-poisoning thing sounds kind of like an urban legend. Maybe one guy poisoned a dog in 1925 and then people kept blaming pet deaths in the 1920s on mysterious unknown poisoners?

  7. 1983? That means this book was published BEFORE the premiere of the ‘Golden Girls’! That’s kind of strange.

  8. Good question, Diana S-D. I would be hesitant to keep (in a non-archive library) something that purported to be a comprehensive biography/autobiography but was sufficiently out of date that it omitted major life events. Something like this, which appears to be “cute stories about Betty White and her pets,” and has no claim on comprehensiveness, I would focus on use and condition in deciding whether to keep or toss. Similarly, if there was a bio or memoir focusing on, say, an actor’s experience working on a specific movie, or an athlete’s road to the World Series/Super Bowl/Olympics/other Big Sports Thing, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that to be superseded even if the actor or athlete did other noteworthy things later on.

  9. Alex: thanks! At serious patron demand, we’re pulling biographies out of the Deweys and giving them their own section (previously, we actually told people to walk around and look for books that ended in “092” if they weren’t looking for a particular biography, groan!) and we’re weeding in the process. Some are really easy to weed, others are much harder.

  10. TF: “1983? That means this book was published BEFORE the premiere of the ‘Golden Girls’! That’s kind of strange.”

    Betty White had a long career in Hollywood before “Golden Girls.” At the time this book was written, I think she was just finishing up her stint as Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

    1. @deb I am glad you said that! To me Betty White was at her FINEST as Sue Ann Nivens. Loved Golden Girls, but MTM show was my favorite.

  11. As someone who has thought Betty was awesome pretty much forever, I just want to say the the recent Betty love movement really tickles me. I’m glad she’s been able to stick around long enough to enjoy it herself!

    Mary Tyler Moore, Password (with and post-Alan Ludden, her DH), Golden Girls–you name it, I’m a Betty fan.

    As for the book: she’s written two others, and recently signed a two-book deal with Putnam, so one could probably let it go. If you don’t need the space, the condition is good, and it’s circulating, I’d keep it.

  12. She reminds me of my mother-in-law, another lively and “mature” lady, over 75 but still kickin butt and takin names! More power to ya.

  13. @Alex – Actually the book is about therapy animals. Such as horses working with the mentally and physically handicapped. Programs in prisons where they train dogs for the blind. Even a story about how a hospital in Nazi Germany had an animal therapy program that saved the lives of their patients. Hitler had ordered that every single patient be put to death because they were considered less then human. When Hitler’s own doctor showed up he said it was because they could not communicate. Once he saw them communicating with animals in the therapy program, he rescinded the order.

    So it’s more then just “cute stories of Betty and her pets.” Though the book was written not long after the death of her husband and she writes about how her own pets helped her with her grief.

    Also Betty was born in 1922. So if she was 5 or 6 when her dog was killed that would make it 1927 or 1928. When I tried to search I mostly got articles about modern day dog killers in California and Hong Kong.

  14. I actually checked this book out last year from the library in my town, along with another Betty White book about her friend who is blind (I’m embarassed to admit I have forgotten his name, despite that he was a blind celebrity in the 1980’s as an actor and host on Good Morning America, and a dear friend of Betty’s, who co-wrote the book) and his dog tales involving his seeing eye dogs.
    Anyhoo – I’m in animal rescue and when I found these on the shelf I couldn’t resist bringing them home and reading through them. The stories are timeless AND priceless, and her training style is still spot-on. Plus, she’s a joy!
    You could certainly weed worse books…..

  15. @didi: Having seen a nude photo of a young Betty White, I have to agree that she was quite the looker back in the day.

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