EXCLUSIVE - 'I sat there crying for 10 minutes': Lisa Vanderpump celebrates China's decision to ban dog meat at annual Yulin Festival after her years of advocacy work
Lisa Vanderpump had cause to rejoice on Wednesday with the news that China would be banning the sale of dog meat at this year's Yulin Festival, which is set to begin next month.
The restaurateur and 'Real Housewives' star has been an outspoken advocate about the practice for almost three years now, and Wednesday's victory came after a number of galas and marches and fundraisers hosted by Lisa that were all aimed at bringing attention to the subject.
An emotional Lisa and her husband Ken Todd spoke with DailyMail.com exclusively after the announcement, and said that while they were ecstatic with the news out of China, there was still much work to do.
The pair also expressed their incredible thanks to Bravo and Evolution Media for allowing Lisa to shine an international spotlight on the issue by featuring it in the most recent season of 'Real Housewives of Beverley Hills.'
Lisa admitted that one of her demands before returning last season was that her work with Yulin get a proper showcase on the show.
Victory: Lisa Vanderpump (left) and Ken Todd (right) scored a major win in the fight against the sale of dog meat at the Yulin Festival on Wednesday
'If it's true then we've been instrumental is stopping this barbarity then we're thrilled. It's not over yet, but apparently they're going to enforce fines of up to $900 and possibly arrest violators starting on June 15 so it's a huge step in the right direction,' said Lisa from hr California home on Wednesday afternoon.
'I think they have felt the pressure from the West and certainly with the help of Bravo and Evolution Media in showcasing our marches and our gala, all the press they have helped us garner has been instrumental in this fight and in spreading the word all over the world.'
When asked what her initial response was, Lisa said: 'I actually cried for 10 minutes, I just sat there.'
She also spoke about how her work trying to stop the practice at the Yulin Festival first began.
'I've been an advocate for the humane treatment of dogs worldwide and I remember when i saw these pictures and I couldn't believe it, because when you hear Yulin Festival you think of festival as a celebration, where dogs are embraced and celebrated.,' explained Lisa.
'And when I saw the barbarity in the treatment and pictures of these dogs ... I saw a dog who was strung up by his neck with his paws and legs having all been severed and he was still alive and his legs were being cooked right in front of him. And dogs hanged up on lines for days or crammed into cages with broken legs.'
Those horrific images will hopefully be on display no longer however thanks to the recent announcement by the Chinese government.
'Unfortunately many dogs and cats will be killed before the start of this year's festival on June 15,' said Lisa.
'But it's definitely China saying, "We hear you. We are kind of moving in the right direction."
She also spoke about when she first saw one of the devastating photos from the Yulin Festival for the first time.
'I remember two-and-a-half years ago Ken saying I am going to show you something and tears just streaming down my face and saying, "Ken, you have to stop this and you have to help me,"' said Lisa.
'And he looked at me and he said, "We will do everything we can."'
Soon, the fight became one of the major focuses in the pair's lives.
'We started off with the march and then we have World Dog Day to draw attention to it and me going back to 'Housewives' last year was really a huge component,' said Lisa.
'And they agreed to showcase my work with Yulin and the LGBT community and I think it was because that broadcast in over 100 countries that's managed to garner attention.'
Lisa also mentioned that she and Ken opened their dog rescue center, which ken said garnered press every week with stories of the animals they were taking into the facility.
'I just think its incredible if we have managed to make change,' said Lisa.
'And change is about shouting it from the rooftops and standing up for what you believe in.'
Dr. John Sessa, Lisa, Pandora Sabo and Ken Todd, the executive board of the Vanderpump Dog Foundation
Horrific practice: The sale of dogs will be outlawed come June 15 at the annual festival
When asked what she believed was the turning point, Lisa said that the perspective of Americans likely played a major role.
'I think [China] felt the heat,' said Lisa.
'I think there's been so much publicity about the barbarianism. Yulin has always been about the torture. It's about skinning them alive and boiling them in pots and seeing them trying to scramble out of pots or being bludgeoned to death. And it all comes back to this idea that the fear and the torture stimulates the adrenaline of these animals which then tenderizes the meat.'
And while this is victory, Lisa said that she hopes people will wtch her upcoming documentary to learn more about the subject.
'I hope people will watch out documentary as well because the documentary is not just about Yulin, its about the fight for the humane treatment of dogs worldwide,' said Lisa.
'Any torture against any animal is a crime against humanity.'
She has also been working closely with Congress, having just visited two weeks back, and Congressman Alcee L. Hastings of Florida.
'It's only a temporary ban so we need people to be aware, and for Americans to say, "China, we see what you;re doing and this is not OK,"' said Lisa.
'We know it would be a bipartisan issue, that people would not say, "Yeah, you should, torture these dogs. You should beat the shit out of these magnificent creatures ."'
Lisa will now continue the fight, giving most of the credit for what she has accomplished to her husband Ken.
Her husband Ken meanwhile,. like all good partners, said it was all Lisa's hard work that made this decision happen in China.
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