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Amanda Hearst Raises Money and Awareness to Fight Puppy Mills

"Friends of Finn" is inspired by her best furry friend

All Animals magazine September/October 2012

  • Amanda Hearst visits an emergency shelter for puppy mill dogs.  Michelle Riley/The HSUS

Three years ago, philanthropist and fashion editor Amanda Hearst purchased a pup from a shop in Manhattan’s West Village. “The pet store had given me his birth certificate and paper with his family tree, assuring me that he was … from a breeder who treated his animals kindly.”

When Hearst later found out that her beloved Finnegan came from a puppy mill, she was shocked—and determined to take action. Fortunately, the great-granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst counts some of New York’s most influential young animal lovers among her friends. People like Georgina Bloomberg, Annie Churchill, Kick Kennedy, and Lorenzo Borghese were happy to join her Friends of Finn charity, which raises money for puppy mill awareness. Hearst has also been a key supporter of the annual To the Rescue! Gala benefiting The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team; this year, she and Bloomberg will chair the Nov. 2 event in New York.

In this edited interview with associate editor Arna Cohen, Hearst describes how she combined philanthropy and friendship into a powerful force for change.

How did you find out about Finn’s background?

I flew down to Mississippi to visit animals rescued [by The HSUS] from a horrible puppy mill. It was difficult and challenging, yet enormously rewarding. After the rescue, a thought crossed my mind: Was Finn from one of these puppy mills? After seeing all those little dogs in cages, with looks of fear and anxiety in their eyes, with their hair knotted and their bodies weak and emaciated, I had to know the truth.

So, with the help of The HSUS, we did some research. The news hit me like a bullet in the chest: Finn had come from a puppy mill that had countless citations and had, at one particularly low point, housed 900 dogs in the same vicinity. It was then that Friends of Finn was born.

How did you form Friends of Finn?

I sought out friends who I knew for a fact loved animals. I wanted people who would be actively involved. The first year we raised about $160,000. The second year we raised $185,000. I’ve worked with a lot of charities and never in my life seen something like this where out of the gate we make so much money.

What is Friends of Finn doing now?

Georgina [Bloomberg] now is an honorary member of The HSUS’s Equine Leadership Council. That was a result of her involvement with Friends of Finn. We’ve thrown a few fundraisers. One was at the Stella McCartney store. We’re thinking of doing something at Dylan’s Candy Bar because Dylan [Lauren] is involved. We have a lot of ideas on the horizon.

View a video of Hearst's visit to the emergency shelter »

Read more from this issue »

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