While many celebrities spend their time working for animal causes and helping with the protection of furry creatures, others have made the news for just the opposite.
From dog fighting to wearing fur to just plain neglect, some celebrities deserve a nomination into the Animal Lovers Hall of Shame. Here are nine names who have made the news for their less-than-stellar treatment of animals — including some who got in big trouble with the law for their behavior.
Ozzy is well-known for the incident in which he bit off the head of a bat while on stage at one of his concerts. Although that happened many years ago, the incident still haunts the star. His explanation? He thought it was a rubber bat and didn’t realize it was an actual dead animal until after he’d bitten into it.
Whether that’s true or not, Ozzy has also been linked to other stories of animal abuse. For example, in his own autobiography, he writes that he “bit the head off a dove in a boring record company meeting.” Whether that’s another tall-tale or not, we might never know.
Aside from her fashion style and her now-defunct reality shows, Paris Hilton was also well-known at some point for something else: her obsession with using toy dogs as accessories.
Her most famous dog, Tinkerbell, went everywhere with Paris at the height of her success (around 2006). And that prompted animal lovers to look closely into her life and how the other dogs she owned were faring.
The result? Seems that not so well. Los Angeles Animal Services finally interfered after rumors that employers had found a dead puppy in one of Paris’ closets. This turned out to be one of Paris’ ways of handling dogs when she got annoyed: lock them away in a different area of the house and then forgetting about them.
At one point, Paris owned 17 dogs, a number of cats, and even 20 rabbits that she claimed to have bought from a pet store to save them from becoming snake food.
The investigation cooled off soon after and Paris stopped talking about her pets to the press, until recently when she began posting pictures of her new teacup Pomeranian puppy which seems to be impossibly small. Instead of promoting local animal shelters Hilton has decided to promote the dog’s breeder who charges thousands for his dangerously small pups.
Perhaps one of the worst celebrity animal-abuse cases to ever hit the news was the one connected to the Atlanta Falcons football team quarterback Michael Vick. In April 2007, Vicks’ property in Virginia was raided under suspicion of dog fighting. Investigators found 54 dogs, many injured and showing obvious signs of abuse.
Further investigation showed that Vick belonged to a large dog fighting ring called “Bad Newz Kennels.” His dogs were not only trained using torture methods, but dogs that could no longer fight were hung, electrocuted or drowned. Evidence of dogs being shot in the property was also found.
Two people working with Vicks were sentenced to 18 and 21 months in prison, and Vick himself received 23 months in prison, an unusually harsh sentence when it comes to animal abuse. He was suspended from the NFL temporarily. He was released from prison after less than a year and allowed to complete the rest of his sentence in a halfway house, while wearing an ankle monitor.
All the surviving dogs have been adopted to new homes or are living in no-kill shelters.
The existing accusations of animal abuse against Courtney Love are mostly of neglect, rather than direct harm. Some have associated this with her ongoing drug problems, which might explain why she once forgot to pick up a dog from the vet (and the dog was declared as “abandoned” and turned into a shelter).
One of Courtney’s dogs died after ingesting prescription pills she left unattended, while another one was severely ill after chewing breast implants she had left on a table.
Love was also reported to Animal Control after one of her cats died from being crushed under a pile of boxes and papers she had hoarded in one room.
Love’s answer? Her cat was killed by a mountain lion and she’s not a hoarder.
When rapper DMX was arrested in May 2008 after a home raid, police added a new charge to his felony drug possession arrest: animal cruelty.
The rapper owned 12 pill bulls, all of which were undernourished and dehydrated at the time of the arrest. Water bowls were nowhere to be found, and a few of the dogs were seriously ill from Valley fever, a serious lung disease.
Further investigations revealed three dogs that had been buried in the backyard. One of them had signs of bruising on the side and shoulder — although experts could not determine if that had been the cause of death. DMX admitted to not knowing how the dogs had died and suggested it might have been because of high temperatures. Turns out the dogs had been stuffed into cages when the AC in the house broke down. With no water and no way to seek relief, they simply passed out and died.
Charges were eventually dismissed as part of a plea bargain deal.
Sandra Bullock’s ex-husband and former star of Discovery Channel’s Monster Garage is infamous for more than his cheating scandal. In 2010, it was discovered that James took his own pit bulls to a dog fighting ring. This resulted in one of them having a leg almost torn apart and both suffering severe injuries that required extensive medical treatment.
While this was never confirmed by authorities, it happened at around the same time the cheating scandal broke – and it’s potentially one of the reasons Bullock left the marriage.
The very famous Dog Whisperer has been accused of doing a lot more than whisper to the dogs he trains. In fact, animal protection groups are outraged at some of Milan’s techniques, which include poking animals and pinning them forcefully to the ground — plus the use of electric shock collars.
Even on his show, Milan has been shown pushing and shoving, using nooses to restrict air supply and contain dogs, and kicking dogs (admittedly, this is usually done to get away from a dog that decided to bite back).
Country singer Troy Gentry (member of the Montgomery Gentry duo) got in deep trouble when a video was released of him killing a bear. And not just any bear, but a tame one held inside an electrified enclosure.
The bear, named Cubby, had been owned by somebody who used him for photo shoots for years. When a dental problem proved too expensive to treat, the owner sold the bear to Gentry, who shot him without getting him out of his enclosure.
He then tagged the bear and tried to pass him off as being “hunted in the wild.”
Unfortunately, Gentry filmed the whole thing. When the video leaked, it was obvious the hunt had been staged and this was a captive bear. The owner was charged with two felonies but all he had to do was pay a fine (no jail time). Gentry was charged with “wrongful tagging” and got off with a slap on the wrist.
Justin Bieber has had his share of trouble with the law – and it seems that includes a few instances of animal abuse.
Perhaps the most infamous one came to light when German customs seized Bieber’s pet Capuchin monkey, Mally. Not only had the singer failed to inform customs that he was arriving with a monkey (which requires clearance and paperwork before he can be allowed into the country), but tests revealed the monkey was only 14 weeks old.
Why is that relevant? Because monkeys of that age should still be with their mothers. They are too young to know how to fend for themselves, and being away from their mothers for long periods of time can lead to stress, illness, and even death. The monkey had trouble eating by himself when quarantine officers took him.
Bieber didn’t even have paperwork to prove where he’d gotten Mally, who is a protected species that cannot be legally owned as a pet except by people that have a special permit.
Bieber has also been accused of passing on his pet hamster to a random fan during a loud concert. The hamster, of course, was never seen again, prompting outrage in those who believed it probably died of stress or exposure.