You can learn a lot about Lisa Vanderpump just from listening to her tagline in the opening sequence of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: “I am passionate about dogs, just not crazy about bitches,” she says, looking effortlessly glamorous in her floor-length pink gown.
Watch even one episode of RHOBH or her other addictively entertaining Bravo reality show Vanderpump Rules and you’ll see that it’s true. Lisa doesn’t take sass from anyone— she doesn’t need to. She’s way too busy with philanthropy and running her restaurant empire (26 and counting) to deal with nonsense or attitude. As for her passion for dogs, it’s confirmed every time she is near any member of her furry brood.
Lisa and her husband Ken Todd live at Villa Rosa, an idyllic estate built into a California hillside. They work long hours at their three nearby bar/ restaurants—Beverly Hill’s Villa Blanca, and Pump Lounge and Sur in West Hollywood—the latter being the center of all the crazy Vanderpump Rules drama (seriously, that wait-staff puts catty housewives to shame). Busy as she is with the day-to-day chaos of her life, Lisa finds peace at home alongside her many beloved pets.
Lisa and Ken have quite the animal pack: eight dogs, eight swans, seven turtles, two miniature horses, and they recently welcomed a full-size horse into the family. Making it work with so many pets can be tough, but Lisa’s not one to shy away from a bit of multitasking. Case in point: she was completely unfazed on Vanderpump Rules when she had to bring Hank, one of her swans, with her to Sur after a vet appointment.
Of course Lisa loves all of her animals, but it’s the dogs that hold the most special place in her heart. Holding court as king of the canines is Giggy, the Pomeranian with alopecia and the greatest doggie wardrobe in all of television. “Giggy feels like a star,” says Lisa of her pup’s celebrity experience. And he isn’t just dreaming—he counts Lady Gaga, Drake, and Jennifer Lawrence as friends, and even has his very own contract with Bravo. “He knows they’re only coming to film him,” adds Lisa. “But his mistress (me) sometimes manages to get in on a scene.” He does have to share the spotlight a little bit though: Lisa and Ken recently adopted another Pomeranian with alopecia from the Sacramento SPCA, so Giggy’s no longer the only pup at Villa Rosa with a killer designer wardrobe.
When she’s not tending to her many pets, her rowdy restaurant staff, or her temperamental fellow housewives, Lisa devotes much of her energy to doing good. She’s a strong supporter of the LGBT community, and a voice for animals in need. “I absolutely love dogs and I would do anything for them,” she says of her commitment to various animal causes.
In addition to her yearly role as a judge at the Hero Dog Awards, Lisa actively speaks out against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival—an annual event in Guangxi, China where participants eat dogs and cats in hopes of acquiring good luck for the year ahead. “I understand that different cultures eat different animals—I am a restaurateur and we serve meat. But this festival is largely about torturing [animals],” she explains. “I knew I couldn’t rest without doing something constructive to stop this.”
As a woman who puts her money where her heart is, the horror she felt after learning about the festival spurred Lisa into founding Stop Yulin Forever, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about the festival and the cruel practices behind it.
“We are building an army of supporters,” Lisa says. Their first event—a march at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles last October—brought more than 1,000 people together to show their support. A march they organized in London had a similarly positive showing. The organization hopes to soon address the United Nations on the topic and propose a formal UN Division for Animal Rights. “We’ve drawn attention to [Yulin],” says Lisa, “And now we have to get it eradicated.”
Believe it or not, Lisa still finds time for other ventures, notably her new line of pet accessories—Vanderpump Pets—complete with crystal bowls, sparkly collars, and Giggy-approved clothing. And it’s not just about luxury—a portion of all proceeds go towards supporting animal causes.
There’s more that Lisa wants to accomplish, but she’s not above appreciating what she has. “Living at Villa Rosa with my ponies, swans, turtles, and dogs…I’m kind of living the dream right now,” she says. We think that would make a great tagline for the next season of RHOBH.
Images: Vincent Sandoval