Sarah McLachlan Admits She ‘Can’t Watch’ Her ‘Brutal’ ASPCA Commercials

Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan has confessed in a new interview with Makers that she must change the channel when her depressing ASPCA commercials air. She appeared in a two-minute advertisement for the non-profit organization back in 2006, which featured her song, “Angel.” Her passionate appeal for donations, mixed with the ad’s heartbreaking imagery of neglected and abused shelter animals, has helped the organization raise $30 million.

The ad was so successful that the ASPCA produced two more TV spots featuring McLachlan. The 2008 ad featured her appealing over her Wintersong performance of “Silent Night,” and the 2009 advert featured the song “Answer.”

“I have to say it was brutal doing those ads because it was like, ‘Can you just be a little more sad?’ and I was like, ‘This is just killing me … save the puppies’ … But I can’t watch them — it kills me,” the Grammy-winning artist said of the spots, but as Us Weekly notes, she also acknowledges that the ads have helped widen her audience.

“I got a whole new audience out of it. I’d be at Target and in, like, Missouri at 10 o’clock at night, getting off the tour bus, and I’d be going down the aisle and these two old ladies go, ‘Are you that dog lady?’ ” McLachlan said, adding that the PSAs “really hit home.”

“I said those words, the song went with the pictures, and it raised 30 million bucks,” she explains. “It really hit home in a profound way, and there were articles written about how we’d changed the face of fundraising.”

The ads have been spoofed by Funny or Die and Saturday Night Live, and during Super Bowl XLVIII, McLachlan parodied her ASPCA appeals in an Audi commercial featuring a “Doberhuahua” dog gnawing on the neck of her guitar.

Sarah’s activism extends beyond her support for ASPCA. In 2012, she wrote a letter on behalf of PETA to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, protesting the country’s annual seal hunt. She also contributed the track “Hold On” to the 1993 AIDS-benefit album No Alternative. In 2005, she took part in a star-studded tsunami disaster relief telethon on NBC. She also donated a song to the Aid Still Required CD back in 2008, with proceeds going toward the restoration of regions in Southeast Asia that were devastated by the 2004 Tsunami.

McLachlan participated in the Philadelphia installment of the Live 8 concerts in 2005, which were held simultaneously in nine major cities around the world and intended to coincide with the G8 summit to pressure leaders to help fight poverty in Africa by canceling debt.

The multi-platinum Grammy and Juno-award-winning McLachlan was recognized with an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University in 2001 for raising millions of dollars for causes including women’s charities, AIDS research/sufferers, and inner-city kids.

She was also awarded the Kiwanis International World Service Medal for her dedication to music education and financial efforts to help improve the quality of life for children.

McLachlan [Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ELLE]McLachlan is best known for her emotive ballads and mezzo-soprano vocal range. She has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, with her bestselling album being her fourth studio release, Surfacing. In 1997, Sarah married her drummer, Ashwin Sood, in Jamaica. They had two daughters before calling it quits (and divorcing) in 2008.

Sarah founded the groundbreaking Lilith Fair tour in 1997, taking the name from the medieval Jewish legend that Lilith was Adam’s first wife. It was the most successful all-female music festival in history, and “brought together 2 million people over its three-year history and raised more than $7 million for charities.”

Last year, Sarah McLachlan released her first album of original music in four years, titled Shine On.

[Image via Twitter]