Restaurateur, designer, author, dog lover, humanitarian, and of course Bravolebrity from the hit Bravo series the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—Lisa Vanderpump does it all! Now with her strong passion for the love of dogs she is on a mission to stop the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Get the full scoop with LVP below in our Q&A:
How did you made 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, but we had meetings and talked about really what it would mean, so I decided to sign on. I had no idea I’d be here seven years later.
What is the 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% 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, Vanderpump Dog Foundation), so its been an incredible experience.
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 job to do. However, I love when people come up to me saying how much they love the show, it shows they’ve connected with it and I like that.
What are your 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.
Have you always been a dog lover? Was there a “heart dog” that made you fall in love with dogs?
Well I do remember having a dog as a child; we had a dog and two cats. As soon as I left home I got my own dog, and I realized how dogs are incredibly connected to us. Dogs are man’s best friend. It carried on into my relationship with my husband, Ken. One time I was with Ken, and we did U-turn on this road in England just to see about a dog that was there. Ken has always been incredibly supportive; I don’t know anyone else’s husband who has gone the distance he has.
Can you tell us about your own dogs?
I have eight dogs.
4 pomeranians: Pikachu, Poppy, Gigalo (Giggy), Pink dog. Poppy I got from a rescue center in Sacramento. He unfortunately has alopecia, but he’s doing a lot better now.
One maltese named Lollypop
One american cocker spaniel – which was a wedding anniversary gift to us – named Schnoooky
A Golden Retriever named Rumpy who ended up falling in love with an older woman, Avery, another golden retriever. He is doing very well after a diet and some exercise.
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.
Best thing about dogs?
The companionship, and I would encourage everyone to have one. People sometimes are lonely and living solitary lives, dogs would enhance their lives so much. They certainly do ours, especially if children have them, as they are interacting and caring for another sentient being.
They are wonderful even as I sit now in my trailer to film something, they are very comforting. I’ve really done everything I can to educate many people in the world about how brilliant they are, how dogs can detect cancer, predict a seizure and be generally therapeutic. They really are brilliant creatures.
What inspired you to start Vanderpump Pets? Do you design the products yourself? Number one fave item?
When Vanderpump Pets was created, it led to my fight against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. When I became more immersed in the pet world, I saw the atrocities that were happening.
In terms of Vanderpump Pets, 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 favorite item is the Vanderpump Pets crystal bowl. We’re trying to keep items very affordable.
How did you make the transition from dog lover to starting your own foundation?
Well, we really have a lot of work to be done. It was ambitious to start the foundation. My work became unsustainable, especially this year because 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. I created the foundation so that I could get others on board in terms of fighting for dogs around the world.
We’ve sent images and banners all over 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.
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 how man can be so cruel. I’ve been ignorant of this, and have chastised myself for not knowing earlier.
Can you share some details about the process of starting a dog rescue? For some it’s a dream, but how did you see it to fruition?
Well I haven’t opened it just yet, but it will be called The Vanderpump Dog House. It will be a place where you can come in and buy whatever you want for your puppy. You can groom them to make them beautiful. We will have dogs we receive from the shelter in hopes of getting them adopted. There are many aspects to it, also people can walk in and volunteer and get directly involved. It will have a wonderful atmosphere, with things like a Café, a doggy spa or you can even curl up and read a doggy book.
Do you have celebrity support? If yes, can you name a few who are supporting this important cause?
A lot, in fact, there’s 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 Chenoweth and many others.
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.
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 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.
What initiatives do you have in the works?
We have a documentary coming out bringing attention to Yulin Dog Meat Festival. We had a gala in support of The Vanderpump Dog Foundation, with another happening next year. We’re going 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. With this, Americans can say to Yulin that this is not right, we see what you are doing.
You can give to the Vanderpump Dog Foundation here!