It has been a week of celebration for The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, with a pair of events that honor individuals making a difference. On Saturday, I attended the 23rd Annual Genesis Awards in Beverly Hills, which recognizes members of the media and the entertainment industry for their coverage of animal protection issues. "Grey's Anatomy," "Bolt," "The Simpsons," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and ABC's "20/20" and "World News with Charles Gibson" were among the top winners.
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi were honored with the prestigious Wyler Award for their work to raise awareness of animal issues and to help pass California's Proposition 2, which phases out the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs, and laying hens on industrial factory farms. California State Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) was recognized for passing a bill to ban the use of lead ammo in the habitat of endangered California condors, and for introducing new legislation to crack down on dogfighting, puppy mills, and animal cruelty.
Just a few days earlier, in Washington, D.C., we held a special reception in the U.S. Capitol to honor members of Congress who were leaders on animal protection legislation in 2008. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was recognized as 2008 Humane Senator of the Year for his work to ensure the safety of pet food, ban the imports of dogs from foreign puppy mills, and toughen the regulations for puppy mills in the U.S., while House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) was named 2008 Humane Representative of the Year, for his work to strengthen the federal laws against animal fighting, track animal cruelty crimes, and ban the export of horses for slaughter.
A bipartisan group of four senators -- Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and David Vitter (R-La.), in addition to Durbin -- and 32 representatives joined us for the reception, and dozens of congressional staff members stopped by to spend time with HSUS and HSLF staff. There were even a couple congressional dogs in attendance, as Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) brought his dog Kaylee, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) brought Maya, who comes to the office every day with staff member Josh Salpeter. You can watch a slideshow here and see photos from the event.
All the award winners are top dogs in our view. We see cruelty and abuse every day in our work, and it's important to take a step back and celebrate the dedicated and compassionate lawmakers, reporters, producers, and advocates who represent the best of the human spirit and are making a meaningful difference in the lives of these creatures.