Lisa Van­der­pump: Res­cue Rules

Pre­pare to be­come a big fan of this star deeply ded­i­cated to sav­ing dogs. Lisa Van­der­pump is on the front­lines of the bat­tle to end the Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val, and she won’t stop un­til she’s suc­ceeded.

Modern Dog - - FRONT PAGE - By Rose Frosek

The un­stop­pable Lisa Van­der­pump is per­haps the ul­ti­mate mod­ern multi-hy­phen­ate: re­al­ity star, restau­ra­teur, de­signer, phi­lan­thropist, and se­ri­ous dog lover with eight of her own res­cue dogs. And de­spite all this—imag­ine star­ring in not one but two re­al­ity shows and helm­ing mul­ti­ple restau­rants and prod­uct lines—this pow­er­house has still carved out time to start her own dog foun­da­tion and tackle, head on and per­son­ally, the atroc­i­ties of the Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val, even speak­ing in front of Congress and or­ga­niz­ing marches against it. Se­ri­ously in­spi­ra­tional, right? Lisa, in her own words, “walks the walk.” Here she an­swers our ques­tions about her goals and pas­sions. Pre­pare to come away in­spired.

Q: How did you make the jump from restau­ra­teur to re­al­ity star?

It evolved re­ally over the course of seven years. I use the term re­al­ity star loosely. It was an op­por­tu­nity, and at first I was hes­i­tant…I had no idea I’d be here seven years later.

Q: Best part of be­ing fa­mous?

Well I think there are many pit­falls. I used to think it was ridicu­lous when I used to read in the pa­pers that a celebrity said that. But I think when you live the ex­pe­ri­ence you have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the lack of pri­vacy. How­ever, 95 per­cent of be­ing a celebrity has been pos­i­tive and has given me a voice for many things that I’m pas­sion­ate about, such as go­ing to United Na­tions, speak­ing in front of Congress, start­ing the Van­der­pump Dog Foun­da­tion, so its been an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

Q: What’s the worst part of be­ing fa­mous?

Some­times it can be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to go about daily life, espe­cially in the restau­rant busi­ness. Some­times peo­ple don’t un­der­stand that I have a job to do. How­ever, I love when peo­ple come up to me say­ing how much they love the show.

Q: Top three ca­reer high­lights?

See­ing my daugh­ter Pan­dora mar­ry­ing her hus­band Ja­son Sabo on show. Danc­ing with the Stars. Van­der­pump Rules con­tin­ues to be pop­u­lar in its fifth year.

Q: Tell us about your own dogs?

I have eight dogs. Four Pomera­ni­ans: Pikachu, Poppy, Gi­galo (aka

Giggy), and Pink dog. Poppy I got from a res­cue cen­ter in Sacra­mento. He un­for­tu­nately has alope­cia, but he’s do­ing a lot bet­ter now. Plus, I have one Mal­tese named Lol­ly­pop, one Amer­i­can Cocker Spaniel—a wed­ding an­niver­sary gift to us—named Sch­noooky, and a Golden Retriever named Rumpy who ended up fall­ing in love with an older woman, Avery, an­other Golden Retriever.

Q: Will you be adding to your pack?

Eight is enough re­ally. I think I can safely say that. It’s quite an over­whelm­ing sit­u­a­tion en­ter­ing the house with eight dogs run­ning to­wards you.

Q: What in­spired you to start Van­der­pump Pets? Do you de­sign the prod­ucts your­self?

Giggy has al­ways worn clothes and hats. Re­mem­ber, Giggy has to wear clothes be­cause of his alope­cia. Like a child, he has to be dressed up to pro­tect his skin in warm weather and against the cold in win­ter. I just re­ally had a lot of fun do­ing it. I thought Van­der­pump Pets would be a fun project. I’ve been very in­volved in de­sign­ing the prod­ucts. My favourite item is the Van­der­pump Pets crys­tal bowl. We’re try­ing to keep items very af­ford­able.

When Van­der­pump Pets was cre­ated, it led to my fight against the Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val—as I be­came more im­mersed in the pet world, I saw the atroc­i­ties that were hap­pen­ing. The fight against Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val is about stop­ping dog tor­ture. It’s ridicu­lous—if you go on my Twit­ter, there’s a pic­ture of a sad, ter­ri­fied dog, face down with paws tied be­hind his back. What kind of so­ci­ety do we live in that would do that?

Peo­ple ask me what about the treat­ment of cows or pigs. I agree we should fight those causes as well but don’t min­i­mize mine. It’s the cause I’ve cho­sen. I just think they are in­cred­i­ble crea­tures. Maybe it’s am­bi­tious to try to stop the Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val—but I am go­ing to be re­lent­less in my fight to stop the tor­ture.

Q: How did you make the tran­si­tion from dog lover to start­ing your own foun­da­tion?

I cre­ated the Foun­da­tion so that I could get oth­ers on board in terms of fight­ing for dogs around the world. We’re work­ing on a doc­u­men­tary about the Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val, we did World Dog Day, we also did a PSA with Sharon Os­bourne, and she helped us in de­liv­er­ing a speech.

We’ve sent images and ban­ners all over the world to en­cour­age other coun­tries to get on board in the fight as well. It has taken a life of its own. The Van­der­pump Dog Foun­da­tion is also open­ing a dog res­cue cen­ter. Van­der­pump Pets prod­ucts sold there will ben­e­fit the Van­der­pump Dog Foun­da­tion. We hope to give the res­cue dogs at the cen­ter a chance. It’s a big­ger deal than we re­al­ized.

Q: Why is this cause so close to your heart?

I knew when I saw those pic­tures of dogs be­ing tor­tured, that to turn away was to con­done it. I look at ev­ery dog in those pic­tures; I look into their eyes and all they

ask is: what did we do to de­serve this? The an­swer is noth­ing; they are won­der­ful crea­tures that should be loved. To see them tor­tured and lit­er­ally piled up on top of each other go­ing to the slaugh­ter breaks my heart and en­cour­ages me to act.

The Van­der­pump Dog Foun­da­tion has res­cued 90 dogs from China, and they were ab­so­lutely ter­ror­ized, given no food or wa­ter, and they had limbs bro­ken. Some didn’t make it. If you go to my web­site, Van­der­pumpDogs.org, you can see. I’ve been ig­no­rant of this, and have chas­tised my­self for not know­ing ear­lier.

Q: What was the im­pe­tus be­hind the foun­da­tion’s cre­ation?

My work sup­port­ing fight­ing against Yulin be­came un­sus­tain­able—though I work re­ally hard, I re­al­ized I needed more peo­ple to get in­volved.

Hav­ing a gala, we raised a lot of money for the Van­der­pump Dog Foun­da­tion. We had peo­ple buy­ing res­cue pup­pies for $25,000 dol­lars [at our silent auc­tion] and then giv­ing them back know­ing that money would go to fight Yulin and save a dog’s life.

When I had the march to the Chi­nese em­bassy in Los An­ge­les, we pro­duced plac­ards, t-shirts and had to get the ap­pro­pri­ate per­mits. It was worth it be­cause 2,000 peo­ple joined me. For World Dog Day we cel­e­brated the beauty of these in­cred­i­ble be­ings, and 4,000 peo­ple joined in. We re­ally have found our foot­ing, and peo­ple re­ally do want to join us.

There are lots of prob­lems in world, and I do what I can. The cause for dogs is some­thing dear to my heart. Be­ing al­tru­is­tic and phil­an­thropic is ex­tremely im­por­tant to me, and for­tu­nately, I’m mar­ried to some­one who feels the same.

Q: Do you have celebrity sup­port?

A lot. There are a lot of peo­ple who love their dogs and treat them like chil­dren. To name a few, Lance Bass, Leona Lewis (who lent her voice to sing a song for our cause against Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val), Eric Benet, Kristin Chenowith, and many oth­ers.

Q: What is your pri­mary goal?

Well, what would re­ally make me happy is to have on my epi­taph that I was in­stru­men­tal in draw­ing at­ten­tion to the atroc­i­ties of the Yulin Dog Meat fes­ti­val. I want to use my celebrity as voice to give peo­ple a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing. To tor­ture any liv­ing be­ing is a crime against hu­man­ity.

An­other goal is to save as many lit­tle furry peo­ple as I can. To know when I look at pic­tures of and into the eyes of a tor­tured and beaten dog, one we were un­able to save, that they did not die in vain. They will be on the rain­bow bridge where ev­ery­one will be re­united.

Q: Have you set a time­line for achiev­ing it?

No, I don’t think that’s pos­si­ble with all the work that needs to be done. June 21st is the next Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val. We’ve done PSAs, and taken to so­cial me­dia to draw at­ten­tion. We’ve done news shows around the coun­try. The work doesn’t stop there. I want to carry on and bring more peo­ple on board. I can­not do this on my own. My part­ner Dr. John Sessa has been to the slaugh­ter, and he has seen the bar­bar­ity first hand. These dogs just lay there just know­ing that they are go­ing to die. I can’t sleep at night un­less I do some­thing about it. Luck­ily my hus­band and Dr. John Sessa feel the same.

Q: What ini­tia­tives do you have in the works?

We’re go­ing to keep go­ing. I plan on go­ing to Eng­land to speak at par­lia­ment about Yulin. The Daily Mail has shed a lot of light on the is­sue. I spoke in front of Congress about Res­o­lu­tion 752, de­nounc­ing Yulin Dog Meat Fes­ti­val, and we’re wait­ing for that to be passed. I ad­vise and urge all dog lovers to reach out to all politi­cians to have them sup­port Res­o­lu­tion 752.

I am a doer—I walk the walk and talk the talk. I’m go­ing to be proac­tive and use my celebrity and my so­cial me­dia au­di­ence to make sure to draw at­ten­tion to as many things as I can. I can’t speak on ev­ery cause be­cause there’s only 24 hours in a day. I need the sup­port of other peo­ple now. We’re only three peo­ple (My hus­band Ken Todd, my part­ner Dr. John Sessa and my­self) and we’ve done so much. Imag­ine what could be done with more peo­ple on board? n

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