Private Humane Society party helps raise awareness about the effects of dogfighting
By Darrah Le Montre
Los Angeles, CA (Hollywood Today) 5/17/09 – An exclusive gala thrown by The Humane Society of the United States took place last Saturday in the Hollywood Hills. Drawing stars like Michael Vartan, Jorja Fox, Corey Feldman, Shannon Elizabeth, Alicia Witt, Hal Sparks and Matt Grant of The Bachelor, the event marked the launch of the new HSUS campaign, “End Dogfighting in Los Angeles.”
“American Pie” sweetheart Shannon Elizabeth told Hollywood Today, “any animal rescue stuff I’m such an advocate for… everything they do that changes the laws and can help the welfare of the animals and educate people is such an important thing and I want to be able to help.”
Noting the difference in rescuing an animal and buying an animal, she also advises prospective adopters, “You shouldn’t stereotype a type of dog. Pit bulls get such a bad rap.” The owner of four dogs, Elizabeth’s latest project includes six episodes of Showtime’s comedy sketch show, “Live Nude Comedy.”
“End Dogfighting in Los Angeles,” according to the Humane Society, “educates at-risk youths to consider their pit bulls as beloved pets rather than lethal weapons.”
“Girlfriends” star Persia White, a vegan for eight years, talked to Hollywood Today about her dedication to the cause. “We are the voice for the unheard,” she says, and clarifies that she feels some of the guys involved in dog-fighting do love their dogs but need to be taught an alternative way to relate with them.
Brought to light by former NFL Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who was sentenced to 23 months in prison for running a brutal interstate dog-fighting ring for five years, this illegal “sport” is devastating to dogs and children are often witness. In an effort to add awareness and grassroots education about dog-fighting the HSUS has begun a hands-on outreach program in the inner-cities of Chicago, Atlanta and elsewhere.
“Street dogfighting is rampant in our cities, perpetuating animal cruelty, violence and crime,” the HSUS says on their website. “It causes horrible animal suffering and desensitizes young people to cruelty.” The HSUS site publishes articles about their harrowing findings.
Most of the dogs involved are pit bulls, a breed that some dog champions argue is intrinsically kind, but turned ugly by physical and verbal abuse, part of the preparation that leads to viciousness in the ring. The non-profit organization informs, “In this underground world, whoever has the toughest pit bull is the winner.”
ABC News reported on their website that “Congress recently passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which provides for a three-year jail sentence and fines of up to $250,000 for interstate animal fighting, according to Massachusetts veterinarian and author Nicholas Dodman.”
The benefit’s theme was Casino Royale, with sponsorships ranging from $350-$10,000 and included a celebrity poker tournament.
Offering an alternative to heavy-spending, Hal Sparks, of “Queer as Folk,” fame, now working on a new VH1 reality-show-satire “Halifornication,” urges people to involve themselves in animal advocacy by volunteering at shelters and through political activism. He says, “Call your state representative about animal rights bills.”
“Californication” guest-star Alicia Witt, currently shooting an indie with Sarah Silverman, stresses the importance of adoption, saying, “even if you have your heart set on a certain breed of dog, you can find a rescue of that breed of dog.”
Also present were Corey Feldman and his wife, Susie, a Playboy model and mother to their four year old son Zen. Both are vegetarians and environmental activists. Seen in the provocative PETA throw-back ad that paid homage to John and Yoko’s ‘bed-in,’ the two insist that taking care of animals as well as our environment is key — although everybody should do what’s in their range. “I’m not perfect,” Corey states. “I’m a human being. I do the best that I can. I learn what I can and try to do my part. But if everybody did their part, we could put those pieces together and it would mean something.”
For more information, visit: www.humanesociety.org/enddogfighting