Vanderpump, Bravo, and Yulin
September 14, 2016. Women's restroom in the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
I was crying. My mascara was already a botched job since I had applied it at 3:30 AM in a rush to get to the airport on time for the first flight out to D.C. I looked in the mirror and saw a raccoon. Thankfully, I don't live my life in fear of being electrocuted, bludgeoned, or skinned alive for my fur like a real raccoon.
I had just attended the Congressional Hearing led by Congressman Hastings. Hastings had introduced a resolution condemning China’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival and calling on the Chinese Government to end the dog meat trade.
Joining Hastings on the hearing panel were representatives from the Soi Dog Foundation, Vanderpump Dogs, The Humane Society International, and The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. Marc Ching - of AHWF - shared an undercover video of the brutal and barbaric dog and cat meat trade - an industry that slaughters thousands of animals every year in the most cruel and unimaginable ways.
I cried; we all bawled. I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience when that video played. And so, there I was in the restroom looking at my reflection in the mirror.
From one of the stalls, out walks Lisa Vanderpump. I know what you're wondering. Does she pee glitter? Instead of a quick stop at the sink and walking straight out the door, she actually turned to me and started talking. In her sophisticated British accent, Lisa started by acknowledging the gruesome content of the video we had all watched together. But then she started talking about AWARENESS.
As many of you probably know, Lisa stars in two hit Bravo reality shows - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules. If you follow the first, you may remember Lisa and her husband, Ken, leading the March Against Yulin in Los Angeles back in 2015. A huge crowd gathered to walk in protest of the dog and cat meat trade.
Initially, Lisa told me, Bravo refused to air the scenes of Lisa mentioning anything about the topic. They said it was too "political." Her argument with Bravo was that exposing the horrific trade wasn't necessarily about politics but rather HUMANITY. Believing in the value of awareness and knowledge, Lisa fought for Bravo to air those segments.
What Lisa highlighted is something I think about from time to time - especially after Yulin officials distributed a flimsy PR statement a few weeks ago saying they were banning the sale of dogs for a week during the festival. I force myself to remember that CHANGE doesn't happen overnight. To begin paving the way for change, we start by creating AWARENESS.
Lisa putting pressure on Bravo and Bravo agreeing to air real shit about a heartbreaking atrocity is a sign of PROGRESS and HOPE that will lead to the CHANGE we need. The attention the trade is receiving now is encouraging. It's a topic that's not just discussed by animal rights activists and what's clear is that no one will stop fighting until the torturous trade ends.
Hopefully, those that are fighting tirelessly to end the suffering of companion animals abroad will begin to look closer at the animals that are suffering in our homeland. Love, joy, pain, and fear exist in all species of animals. Once we begin breaking down the barriers that exist between companion and farm animals, our culture will recognize that abuse is cruel - regardless of species - and all life is deserving of respect and compassion.
“THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD ARE THE ONES WHO DO." ~ROB SILTANEN