“Let this be our legacy – collectively we can and will be advocates for change” – Lisa Vanderpump on ending the Yulin Dog Meat Festival

Adapted from Lisa Vanderpump’s address to Congress on 9/14/16

I entered into the public forum 7 years ago through the world of television and I am thankful for the platform it has given me. I have many causes that I champion – but the humane treatment of dogs and eradicating dog torture is paramount in my mind. Collectively with members of congress, activists and supporters we can spearhead our movement and propel it onto an international stage.

Dogs have always been my passion. As a species, they are one that is capable of great empathy and kindness. As a judge of the Hero Dog Awards each year I have regaled many instances of dogs that are truly saving lives. There are dogs that can detect cancer, predict seizures, help the blind, ease PTSD. They are animals that enrich the lives of so many and we should be as empathetic to their needs as they are to ours.

2 years ago, I became aware of The Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China and similar events across Asia. I was incredulous and shocked at the images and the stories behind them… they are some of the most barbaric, repulsive atrocities I have ever seen. I have seen images where a beloved golden retriever has been strung up as his limbs have been severed and cooked in front of him. Dogs are inhumanely transported in cages with no food or water; they are piled on top of each other, their limbs purposefully broken as they are stuffed into cages. Although the dog meat trade is repulsive to me, it is the belief that the torture stimulates the adrenaline and therefore makes the meat more tender that has galvanized us into action.

The annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival is not just a celebration that looks at dogs as a commodity to be harvested, eaten or sold. It is a celebration of the vicious torture of dogs and 10 days of revelry in their suffering.

It is also not an ancient tradition with ties into China’s beautiful history and custom – it is a new practice that has evolved in the last ten years, right under our noses. Yulin is a thriving cosmopolitan city—it is not a deprived village depending on dog meat for food. How the rest of the world has turned a blind eye to this was shocking to me.

After many sleepless nights with the haunting visuals of tortured dogs plaguing us, my husband and I launched The Vanderpump Dog Foundation. Our mission is to provide for a more humane world for dogs worldwide and to specifically end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Through legislative work, educational activities, and animal rescue, the foundation works on both a domestic and international level to create reform. Initially, given the magnitude of change we were trying to incite, we felt alone in this fight. However, our supporters have been as vocal and passionate as we have.

We are not alone in this struggle and, together, we will be a voice for the voiceless.

The beauty of this cause is that it is universal. It transcends party lines, state borders and political stances. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat; our cause should be everyone’s cause.

As a country, we are judged by our actions and our beliefs. If we turn our heads and do nothing, we are condoning that this Festival continues. By not doing anything, we are silently giving Yulin our blessing. We, as people, should not stand passive while watching this barbaric practice continue.

I am resolute, as are the thousands of people who have supported us in our endeavors so far.

However, despite all of our actions, standing before Congress is the moment we had been working towards. We’ve organized marches, rallies, petitions. We’ve put people on the ground in China; inspired new waves of social media; rescued hundreds of dogs… and yet, addressing the nation has been one of our ultimate goals. Because that was the day we stood before the American government and asked for the support of the country.

A large contingent of the Chinese population is already stimulated to support this cause and, together, this is our chance to increase the pressure on the Chinese government, to force them to stop indulging vile practices that include torture. The United States of America is a powerful nation that can be instrumental in setting worldwide parameters regarding the inhumane treatment of sentient beings. There is no way around it - torture is a crime against humanity.

It is with the weight of the American government behind us that we can finally begin to make real change. Where we, as a country, can officially stand together and say, “this is not right and we do not condone it.” It’s with the voices of the US public, legislation and support that we can finally eradicate the barbaric torture once and for all.

I am imploring you to support us. I beseech you - let this be our legacy – collectively we can and will be advocates for change. Thank you.