She may be best known for her role as vampire vixen Pamela Swynford De Beaufort on the HBO smash hit True Blood
, but when Kristin Bauer van Straten isn’t sinking her fangs into her foes or dishing out delightful one-liners, she prefers hanging out with her four-legged family members.
“I’m very lucky,” Bauer van Straten says. “We’ve been filming Season 6 [set to premiere in June] only about an hour from my house in Los Angeles, so I get to sleep in my own bed.” Like many pet parents, her bed is piled with dogs, cats and (if there’s room) her husband, musician Abri van Straten. But this leading lady hardly has time for lounging these days. In addition to her “night job” playing a vampire, Bauer van Straten devotes herself tirelessly to taking a bite out of animal cruelty. She may be far from the farm in Wisconsin where she grew up — surrounded by “endless cats,” horses, chickens and dogs — but she still holds a special place in her heart for furry friends.
From cats and dogs to monkeys and whales, Bauer van Straten fights for them all. She frequently speaks out against animal testing and last year journeyed to South Africa and Kenya to film a documentary about elephant and rhinoceros populations impacted by illegal poaching. In addition, she works with several organizations to spread the word about adoption. Among her most recent efforts, Bauer van Straten filmed a public service announcement for Best Friends Animal Society’s “NKLA” campaign, advocating to make Los Angeles the largest no-kill city in the U.S.
But nowhere is Bauer van Straten more devoted to pets than in her own home with her crew of rescues, including Asher, an 80-lb. Rottweiler mix, and Osmond, a 50-lb. Labrador mix (“At least, that’s what we think,” she laughs. “He loves to fetch, so we figure he must be some kind of retriever!”). Alongside them are adopted brother and sister marmalade cats, Samuel and Abigail. She may already have a full house, but “I’m always thinking about adding more!” says Bauer van Straten. “There’s usually one at every rescue event that breaks my heart. If it wasn’t for my husband, I’d be a crazy cat lady, with 900 of them! But we have harmony at home right now, so I try to put my energy into talking [to other people] about adopting at the events.”
Bauer van Straten also devotes her energy to being an educated and proactive pet parent. Taking a canine CPR class, for example, led to an eye-opening learning experience. After learning about common household and backyard toxins, “I went online and started looking at all these plants that can be poisonous to dogs and cats,” and quickly recognized two from her own yard. Thankfully, she says her pets have never been tempted to snack. “I had no idea how dangerous things in the yard could be!”
The van Straten pets also visit the vet regularly, including the pet dentist. “My previous dogs, a Rottweiler and a Doberman, always had good teeth, but a girlfriend of mine has a little dog who has had tons of dental problems. It got me thinking, so I took my guys for a cleaning. Thankfully, both of their mouths were in good health.” Nevertheless, she’s implemented her own dental regimen for her pets, including dental sprays, but like most pet parents, she admits, "We should try to brush more!”
However, being a good pet parent doesn't mean Bauer van Straten hasn't had her share of pet health scares. "My last Rottie, Atlas, chewed for two years straight - including my perfect pair of flip-flops. He'd chew through the carpet and then the floor underneath. It was a constant battle to keep safe things around for him to chew."
Thankfully, her current pets are not destructive chewers, though “Asher will destroy soft toys.” Osmond, on the other hand, loves his stuffed animals. “He sleeps with them and carries them around. Whenever we go away, we bring him back a new one.” Jaw-dropping as it may seem, come Sunday nights this June, you’ll find Bauer van Straten doing the same thing as millions of her fans across the country — tuning into True Blood. “[The cast] gets to see the season premiere at a big event, but we don’t see the rest of the episodes until they come out,” she explains. “Because of the way the show is filmed, I don’t get to see what’s happening with the other characters — so we get just as excited as everyone else!”
For this pet parent, there’s no better way to spend an evening than piled onto the couch with her whole family — both two- and four-legged — as they sink their fangs into their favorite show — and maybe the odd stuffed animal.