A little Chihuahua rescued while wandering the streets in Southern California has a new zip code and — most importantly — a new home, thanks to actress and animal advocate Jennie Garth.
“When the pandemic started, there were a lot of dogs that needed foster homes and I thought we were just going to be fostering him, but we all just fell in love with him,” she told TODAY. “He just fits right in and he plays so well with the other dogs that we just decided to keep him.”
The “Beverly Hills, 90210” star and her family tried out several different names for the little dog, including Ready Eddie and Taco, but nothing stuck initially.
“Then one day I said, ‘Oh, he looks like Dr. Fauci'" — as in Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — "and so we just started calling him Dr. Fauci,” she said with a laugh.
Now the canine Fauci lives a “life of luxury” with Garth’s other dogs, Pinky, Sandy, Pearl and Buddy. She’s been touched to see her three daughters bond with the dogs at home with her during the coronavirus pandemic.
“During this time when things sort of slowed down, they really got close with the dogs on a whole ‘nother level,” she said. “And I think having the animals in the house and having that sort of energy has been very calming and very grounding for the girls. It’s been really beautiful to see — not only how it’s affected them, but how much closer the dogs feel to all of them now, too.”
Garth, 48, has always been an animal lover. She was born on a farm where her family had all sorts of animals, including pigs, horses, cats and dogs.
“I’m just the person that’s always had a little dog on their lap,” she said. “I don’t really go many places without my dogs. We plan our vacations and trips around the dogs. Our lives basically revolve around the dogs.”
She’s bringing that passion for animals to her role as the spokesperson for 2020's Remember Me Thursday, which takes place Sept. 24. Hosted by the nonprofit Helen Woodward Animal Center, the goal of the global campaign is to shine a light on the homeless pets waiting for forever homes and to honor those who weren’t saved in time.
People can take photos of their adopted pets — posing with or without a candle — and share them online Thursday tagged with #SeeTheLight.
Garth is the narrator for a new Remember Me Thursday PSA and hopes it will help spread awareness of how many pets need homes and inspire people to adopt from animal shelters or rescue organizations.
“Check out the dogs that need homes. I guarantee you, if you spend a little time, you’re going to fall in love with somebody and you’re going to want to bring them home, if you’re an animal person,” she said. “There are so many great organizations out there, like the Helen Woodward Animal Center, that can help you find a dog during this time.”
Garth is also preparing for another celebration: the upcoming 30th anniversary of "Beverly Hills, 90210" on Oct. 4. She and Tori Spelling — whom she refers to as “my best friend" — are developing a podcast for iHeartRadio called “9021OMG.” They’ll follow along, episode by episode, with fans and give insights into the 90210 world.
“It’ll be fun. We’re excited to just hang out and talk and spend time together,” she said.
In the meantime, Garth is focused on helping save pets and encouraging animal lovers to adopt a new best friend, as she did with Fauci. With many people feeling isolated during the pandemic, she sees it as a great opportunity.
“You can save a dog’s life, but a dog can also save your life by bringing you that love and companionship you might be missing,” she said.
For more information about Remember Me Thursday, visit remembermethursday.org.