The Real Reason Bob Barker Always Said 'Have Your Pets Spayed Or Neutered'

Legendary game show host Bob Barker had quite the television career. But though it began with "Truth or Consequences" from 1956 to 1975, he is best known for his time on "The Price Is Right" from 1972 to 2007. And anyone who has watched the show knows that he had a very particular sign-off — reminding viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered to control the pet population. So why exactly did he do this?

In a 2000 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Barker revealed that the statement was his idea and came after years of learning more about animal welfare from his wife, Dorothy Jo, as well as experiences he had with animal organizations. "I just felt compelled to do what I could to change the situation. And, that's what I've been doing," he said, underlining the lack of homes for animals in particular as a key issue.

'The only solution'

During his interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Bob Barker touched on the population-to-home ratio for animals — and his belief in his proposed solution. "If you know anything about animals you know there are too many cats and dogs in the United States," he said. "There are not enough homes for all of them. There are organizations all over the country trying to find homes for them, but they're not going to succeed because they don't exist. ... The only solution is to have your pets spayed or neutered, and that's what I ask people to do."

In the same interview, Barker also revealed that he did not go through producers to get permission for his sign-off: "I did it. And then I started doing it a little oftener and a little more often and a little more often. Pretty soon, I'm doing it every day and nobody said anything. That's not controversial."

According to Barker, he had said more contentious things before he started his new sign-off — particularly comments that upset furriers, who he said he had "no respect" for.

A long journey

Bob Barker's foray into animal awareness wasn't overnight — it took place over decades. "Well, Dorothy Jo was before her times as far as animals were concerned," he told the Television Academy Foundation. "She never really made a point of talking about it, but she became a vegetarian. ... We started talking more about it, and I became more concerned about animals."

Barker said he had "always loved animals" and had contributed money to animal-oriented organizations but "never participated." In his autobiography "Priceless Memories," he says he became honorary chairman of Los Angeles' "Be Kind to Animals" week in 1979 — the same year he went vegetarian, and the same year he began the "have your pets spayed or neutered" slogan, according to The Mercury News.

The host's activism continued throughout his life — he notably funded an animal studies minor at his alma mater, Drury University. "This minor ... has captured the interest of colleges and universities nationwide," Barker said in a statement (per Business Wire).