Russell Simmons is playing up his activist side with a new role as spokesperson for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The hip-hop mogul and animal lover is helping the ASPCA launch a national campaign to raise awareness of animal abuse and neglect, the organization announced Tuesday.
The campaign features Simmons in a television and print public service announcement encouraging Americans to be observant of animal cruelty in their neighborhoods and to visit the ASPCA's Web site to learn how to identify animal cruelty.
"There is nothing cool about being cruel to animals," Simmons said in a statement released by the ASPCA. "They have no choice and no voice. Animal cruelty happens every day in America and people just sit by and do nothing."
Simmons is joined in the advertisements by a 7-year-old dog named Emi Fitzgerald, who was rescued by an ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement agent from a dog-fighting lot in New York's South Bronx in 1999, after an anonymous complaint was filed.
"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. "Every day, 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."
In addition to the national campaign, the ASPCA will also launch a pilot program in the Big Apple to encourage New Yorkers to anonymously report animal abuse through a new toll-free hotline (1-877-THE-ASPCA).