#StopTheTorture Campaign Launches in New York City Metro Area
for Humane Society International
Social media influencers, marketing, and public relations professionals partner to raise awareness about the murderous "dog-torture" festival in Yulin.
In Yulin, China, June 21, is the start of an annual “festival” when dogs and cats – many of them stolen pets – are brutally beaten to death and then consumed. These animals suffer enormously – packed tightly together in tiny cages and driven for days without food or water to slaughterhouses and markets, before being cruelly killed in front of each other. Last year, Yulin authorities attempted to ban the sale of dog meat, but it was overturned before the festival began.
To help raise the public's awareness for this issue more than a dozen women and dog owners based in the New York Metro Area released images with their pets and the message “Stop The Torture” on Instagram. The campaign was formed to stir emotion and awaken audiences to the barbaric Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Images featured serious expressions with a URL (hsi.org/stopthetorture) to drive traffic to the Humane Society International's website to promote the organization's work to end the global abuse and torture of dogs.
The campaign was photographed by Westchester based pet and family portrait Photographer, Geoffrey Tischman, and was branded by internationally known Graphic Designer, Albian Gagica. Later this month, videos with behind the scenes footage from each photo shoot created by Starr Films will be released individually to further promote the campaign. The campaign was developed by Communications Strategist, Sarah Bamford, in collaboration with a team of professionals who donated their time and talent in support of the global movement to end Yulin forever.
According to the Humane Society International, the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival was launched in 2010 by Yulin's dog meat traders as a commercial enterprise to boost their flagging sales. Previously, Yulin city had never known a dog meat festival and there was no established tradition of dog eating there, the traders tried to co-opt the idea of local tradition in order to legitimize the event. The festival is a barbaric spectacle, but the dog's suffering actually starts much earlier. Thousands are grabbed from the streets, crammed tightly into wire cages and piled onto trucks to be driven for days or weeks. They come from as far as Anhui, Hubei, and Henan in Central China, up to 1,500 miles away. At the slaughterhouse, they will be beaten to death with metal poles.
Among international leaders fighting to put an end to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is Bravo TV Reality Star and Restaurateur, Lisa Vanderpump. From organizing a march in protest, through Los Angeles to the Chinese Consulate-General, speaking out against the event on Capitol Hill, to creating a documentary about the cause, Vanderpump has been instrumental in bringing awareness to the Festival and growing support to end it once and for all. "I was watching a rerun of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in December when I learned about the Yulin dog festival in China," said Bamford. "At first I was shocked. I started researching and talking about Yulin as much as I could for about a week. I soon realized that most people I spoke to either didn't know about the torture festival or didn't understand the full scope of abuse and cruelty involved with the international dog-meat trade. I felt I had to do something, so I started brainstorming the idea to leverage my network to increase my reach and raise awareness for groups working to end the global abuse of dogs and cats".
In early January, Bamford began reaching out to her peers, colleagues, and friends based in New York City and the Metro area that, like herself, owned a dog and had the ability to spread information through social media and traditional media outlets. "When I pitched this social campaign I was met with an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone I reached out to. In less than a month I had more than 20 professionals donating their time to help create this awareness campaign", said Bamford.
One of her campaign partners, Kris Ruby, previously worked to raise awareness and support for the fight against Yulin and is knowledgeable on the global issue of animal abuse. "I learned a lot from some of my peers that have worked in this space, the ugly truth is animal abuse persists around the world including in the United States. The issue involving 'man's best friend' is extreme and unnecessary in China, therefore, there should be a global movement to end the Yulin Festival. These creatures are proven to benefit our lives tremendously, their lives should be protected," Bamford explained. Humane Society goes beyond rescuing animals from abuse. The organization creates agreements with farmers before permanently shutting down the dog meat farms and destroying the facilities. Representatives at HSI work with farmers to sign a legally-binding contract that ensures farmers will never return to farming dogs or any other animals. The next step is to develop a business plan with farmers to help them transition to a humane livelihood.
To date, Humane Society has shut down 11 dog meat farms around the world. In China, HSI is guiding and supporting numerous local animal welfare organizations in addressing the dog meat trade within their own country. Since August 2014, partner groups have assisted the rescue of more than 7,000 dogs across China from large transport vehicles carrying hundreds of captured dogs in crowded cages to their deaths at slaughterhouses.
The #StopTheTorture official hashtag is being used to track its influence among others who participate in the campaign by posting an image with the provided caption. Partnering on the Campaign is the Founder of Evoke Marketing and PAWS of Greenwich, Jessica Del Guercio with Hope @ms_evoke; International Actress and Humanitarian, Gabriela Dias with Coco and Hines @officialgabrieladias; Professional Ballet Dancer and Co-Founder of EmpowHer New York, Ingrid Silva with Frida @ingridsilva; Founder of Bread & Butter Marketing, Ria Rueda with Bear @breadandbuttermktg; Founder of Hybrid Media, Sarah Bamford with Sumi @sarahbam82; Intoxikate Radio Personality and Food Writer, Kate Schlientz with Harper @intoxikatefoodie; Founder & Creative Director of statement., Brooke Bohnsack with Duke @brookegordonbohnsack; Founder of Ruby Media Group, Kris Ruby with Caicos @krisruby; Founder of New View PR, Elisa Gorman with Buddy @elisagorman; Publicist, Rachel Lampen with Louis @only1rara; Fashion Designer, Katie Fong with Tucker @katiefongbiglin; Beauty Entrepreneur and Miss Connecticut USA 2017, Olga Litvinenko with Leo @the_olga_litvinenko; Greenwich Real Estate Agent, Suzy Armstong with Coco @suzyarm; Business Owner and Interior Designer, Mari Boltone with Rambo and Daisy @maribinteriors; and Makeup Artist, Nina DeGiglio with (Dylan Armstorng's dog) Charlie @ninadegigliomakeup.
Dias tops the campaign partners with a growing fan base on Instagram of more than four hundred thousand Instagram followers and was exposed to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival by a close friend. "I could not be more distraught over the cruel and inhumane festival. I am happy to stand behind #StopTheTorture and the Humane Society International to end the torture of dogs at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China and worldwide. Dogs are family to many of us and provide proven health benefits! I can not even begin to imagine my life without my dogs, Coco and Hines. I ask that everyone work together to put an end to abuse and torture of dogs", said Dias.
The Campaign was produced by a team that donated their time and talent throughout March and April. Salon Owner, Paulo Lanfredi, opened his new space on Greenwich Avenue to host each photo shoot, Lanfredi also helped with hairstyling. Makeup was provided by Kathleen Fillion who used a cruelty-free cosmetic brand, Chantecaille, and wardrobe styling was provided by Penny Goffman, the founder of Jolie Gotique. "I couldn't have pulled this Campaign off without the help of Angelique Adelina, she was by my side at each shoot capturing it all on video. Her company Starr Films has produced many award-winning short films and her guidance was a huge support. Everyone on this team played a very important role, I couldn't be more grateful for their advice, time and patience. It is truly amazing how the bond between humans and dogs can motivate such incredible teamwork" said Bamford. She continued, "The main goal for the #StopTheTorture campaign is to start a conversation, motivate our audiences to educate themselves and above all, support an organization that is leading the fight to end the global abuse and torture of dogs and inhumane treatment of all animals. Everyone working on this project provided a lot and did it with their whole heart, I know we're going to make an impact."
Visit the Humane Society International (HSI) website to sign the petition to help end the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. HSI and its Chinese animal group partners, VShine and Capital Animal Welfare Association, are urging the Yulin authorities to implement and enforce a ban this year in the following ways: initiating roadblocks before the festival starts to prevent illegal dog trucks from entering Yulin, alerting dog traders that their trucks will be refused entry to Yulin with heavy fines, and working with Chinese and international animal welfare experts to provide temporary shelters to accommodate and care for confiscated animals until they can be transported out and adopted.
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About Humane Society International
Humane Society International is one of the only global animal protection organizations working to help all animals—including animals in laboratories, animals on farms, companion animals and wildlife—and our record of achievement demonstrates our dedication and effectiveness. HSI: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.