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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Deal Dogs a Winning Hand

It’s a consensus position that dogfighting is abusive and unacceptable, and an important part of our work at The HSUS and HSLF involves strengthening the state and federal laws to combat this practice. But it’s not enough just to wrestle down the cruelty and put people in jail when it occurs—we also need to reach out to young people and make sure they don’t get lured into the world of dogfighting in the first place.

281x167_kid_and_pitbull In 2006, The HSUS launched an innovative grassroots program to target dogfighting in urban neighborhoods of Chicago. Our ambassadors talk to young men at risk for getting involved in this crime, and interrupt dogfights in progress on the streets. We give them alternatives to dogfighting, such as pit bull training classes that showcase pit bulls as friends, not fighters. We improve the lives of the young men who learn to celebrate the human-animal bond, and we improve the welfare of dogs through vaccinations, doghouse giveaways, and other community events.

The program has been so successful in Chicago, that we’re expanding it to Atlanta and Los Angeles. And I’ll be attending a very special Hollywood event on May 9th for the official kickoff of The HSUS’s “End Dogfighting in Los Angeles” campaign. This elegant evening, dubbed “Casino Royale: Playing for Change,” is co-sponsored by PokerStars, and will feature casino games, a celebrity poker tournament, gourmet food, a martini and wine bar, and a silent auction. Tickets start at $350 each and include chips to all casino games.

A number of celebrities will join us at the casino event, including Corey Feldman, Jorja Fox, Matt Grant, Bill Maher, Charlotte Ross, Hal Sparks, and Michael Vartan. And a special celebrity poker tournament will feature PokerStars pro Greg Raymer, who won an historic $5 million prize in the 2004 World Series of Poker; actor Vince Van Patten, the King of the Hollywood Home Game and host of the World Poker Tour; and actress Shannon Elizabeth, the winner of multiple tournaments.

There are a few seats left at the table, and you can bid online for a chance to play with these poker paladins. It’s a unique opportunity to go head-to-head with five celebrity poker players and four other winning bidders. The tournament winner will be eligible for a prize package valued at $15,000—and can choose a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure or a seat at the Las Vegas World Series of Poker.

Dogfighting not only claims the lives of tens of thousands of dogs each year, but also brings violence and drug trafficking to our communities, and ruins the lives of young men who start down this dead-end path. Make a sure bet and help us provide a more positive environment for people and dogs, in Los Angeles and in all communities impacted by this crime. Join me at “Casino Royale: Playing for Change” on May 9th, and go all in for animals.

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