This Is How Many Pets Betty White Had When She Died

As tributes continue to pour in following the death of beloved actress Betty White, one of the most consistent accolades about the "Golden Girls" star was her love of animals. According to Betty White, her passion for all creatures was handed down from her parents.

"[My parents] were genuine animal nuts, and I am eternally grateful that they have passed much of that passion on to me," she noted in the introduction to her autobiography, "Betty and Friends," per The Today Show.

In addition, Betty sought to take her passion for animals to the entertainment world, and even created a television show called "The Pet Set" which aired in the 1970s. The series featured famous actors and actresses such as Mary Tyler Moore, Burt Reynolds, and Carol Burnett showing off their pets — as well as segments that showed off more exotic animals.

With her love for four-legged creatures well-known, it's little surprise that Betty had quite the menagerie of pets throughout her lifetime. However, it appears that Betty began reducing the number of critters in her care as she got older and older.

Betty's final pet died in 2017

As reported by Parade, Betty had one pet several years prior to her death, a golden retriever named Pontiac who had originally worked as a guide dog with ​​Guide Dogs for the Blind, an organization Betty had supported for years. The "career change" dog dropped out of the guide dog program because he was too friendly — he would run to greet everyone he saw as he walked down the street, according to Today. But this was perfect for Betty White, who joked that as soon as she met the sweet pup, she knew she had to keep him.

"You don't meet a golden retriever and go home to think it over!" she noted in a 2009 interview with TV Guide. She didn't name the pup, she said, but she prefers to think of him as the indiginous American leader rather than the car brand. "When the Pontiac car business went out of business, I sat him down and I explained, 'Pontiac, it wasn't your fault, honey. You didn't do anything wrong. They just went out of business,'" she said.

According to Page a Day, it was even rumored that Pontiac might inherit up to $5 million from Betty's will. But Pontiac didn't live to see the windfall — he died several years before Betty White did, in 2017, according to People.

White continued to work with animals after Pontiac's death

Kiersten Mikelas, Betty White's executive personal assistant, told People that Betty didn't adopt any additional animals after Pontiac died. "[Betty didn't] want to bring in somebody new," Mikelas said, because she didn't "want to leave them behind" when she died. However, White continued to meet "lots of doggy visitors" and additional "four-legged friends" in the years before her death.

After her death, her agent and friend Jeff Witjas shared with People that he once asked White, after Pontiac died, if she wanted another pet, and she gave him her reasons for not getting one — she was worried she would outlive any dog she brought home. "And I would kid her," Witjas said. "I said, 'Betty, you're outliving everybody. You're not going anywhere.' But she was so sensitive to animals."

That sensitivity meant that not only did White have pets, but she also supported animal welfare causes throughout her long lifetime. Among her substantial efforts, she paid to evacuate otters and penguins from a New Orleans aquarium after Katrina (per KATC); she supported the Morris Animal Foundation's work in developing cures for feline leukemia and the parvovirus; and was even honored by the American Humane Association for her work with the organization over seven decades (via Bets' Pets).

White once had 26 dogs

Pontiac was far from the only pet she loved throughout her lifetime. Though there are no firm sources that can verify exactly how many pets she had over her incredible 99 years, some internet sleuthing suggests that she had well over two dozen animals. In the TV Guide interview, Betty lamented about the recent loss of three pets, which included a "16-and-a-half-year-old Shih Tzu," a "10-year-old golden," and an "11-year-old Himalayan kitty."

In another interview — this time from 1958 — Betty mentioned the three dogs in her care at the time: Bandy, a Pekingese, Stormy, a St. Bernard, and Danny, a miniature poodle, per Woof Republic. Last but not least, Betty admitted to Newsweek that at one point, her family owned a whopping 26 dogs. With such a large heart, it's little surprise that she had such a lasting impact on Hollywood and the public at large.