Russell Simmons Joins the ASPCA in Launching Anti-Cruelty Campaign

Hip-hop mogul, entrepreneur, political activist, and animal lover Russell Simmons has joined The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to launch a national campaign to help raise awareness of and eliminate animal abuse and neglect.

"There is nothing cool about being cruel to animals, they have no choice and no voice," says Simmons, who is featured in a national television and print public service announcement (PSA) campaign. "Animal cruelty happens every day in America and people just sit by and do nothing."

The ASPCA is encouraging Americans to be vigilant for animal cruelty in their neighborhoods and visit www.aspca.org to learn how to identify possible animal cruelty. Resources are also available for people to learn what laws protect animals in their areas and where animal cruelty can be reported where they live. Animal cruelty can range from neglect (failure to provide food, water, shelter, or necessary medical care) to intentional abuse, torture or death.

"The ASPCA is fortunate to have Russell Simmons joining us in our campaign to eliminate animal cruelty through awareness and action" said Edwin J. Sayres, ASPCA President. "Everyday, Americans witness animal cruelty and simply don't know what to do. The goal of this campaign is to let people know that animal abuse is a crime and if they see it, they need to report it."

Russell Simmons is joined in the PSA campaign by a very special seven-year old dog, Emi Fitzgerald. Emi was rescued by an ASPCA HLE agent from a dog fighting lot in the South Bronx in 1999 after an anonymous complaint was filed. Emi was scarred from being used as a "bait dog" in illegal dog fights. After spending several months at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Hospital and undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, Emi found his new home with an ASPCA employee who fell in love with his sweet and gentle nature.

In addition to the national campaign, the ASPCA is launching a toll-free hotline pilot program to encourage New Yorkers to anonymously report animal cruelty in the five boroughs. Since 1866, the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) Department has enforced New York State's animal cruelty law through investigations, citations, and arrests. The ASPCA also offers training to other law enforcement and animal protection agencies nationwide. In 2004, the organization's 18 HLE agents investigated 4,500 cases of suspected animal cruelty which resulted in 54 arrests.

The NYC pilot program will be promoted via a TV and print PSA campaign, ads in the New York City subway system, posters in targeted neighborhoods and the distribution of 100,000 magnets – all featuring Russell Simmons. Posters are also being distributed to all New York City Police Department precincts highlighting the toll-free animal cruelty hotline number.

"We are confident that this pilot program will be a success in New York City and will enable us to implement a similar program nationally," said Edwin J. Sayres.

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