Monday, March 30, 2009

The 2009 Genesis Awards

I just got back from the HSUS's Genesis Awards. This is the awards show the HSUS puts on every year to honor those who have tackled pro-animal issues in television, film, and newspapers/magazines. (They haven't yet started a blog category...hey guys, yoo hoo? LOL.) I have worked on a number of awards shows but this is my favorite because it's all animal people. You get to find out which celebrities are vegan/vegetarian, which spend their spare time rescuing animals and which think people who club baby seals ought to be clubbed (You go, Hal Sparks - I liked you on Queer as Folk and I like you even more now!). Did you all know that when Nigel Barker isn't doing America's Next Top Model, he spent his own money and time going to Canada to do a documentary on the baby seal slaughter?

(Side note:
oh my God is he hot in real life.)

Some of the other celebrities who took time out from their schedules to show up and present awards at the event included Gabrielle Anwar, Jarrod Cooper, James Cromwell, Kaley Cuoco, Emily Deschanel, Corey and Susie Feldman (he's hilarious by the way...I have a whole different opinion of him after meeting him. The press has given that guy a bad rap.), Jorja Fox, Ginnifer Goodwin, Matt Grant, Marg Helgenberger, Carrie Ann Inaba, Claudia Jordan, Dominic Scott Kay, Wendie Malick, Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Maggie Q, Jillian Reynolds, Reid Scott, Debra Skelton, Hal Sparks, Ben Stein, Susanna Thompson, Kirsten Vangsness, Michael Vartan and Persia White. Katie Cleary from America's Next Top Model was the trophy presenter and she is terrific. One of the dogs who played Marley in Marley & Me attended and all I can say is, I don't think he was acting in the film, LOL. He was what I like to call a Labradork - very friendly but very, very bouncy. :-)

And these people really love animals - they're not phony. Let's just say we had another name backstage for Michael Vick and I bet you can all guess what it was! Sports Illustrated took home a Genesis Award for their article on Michael's dog-fighting bust. Good for them. They didn't whitewash things a bit.

It is always fun to see who wins. The Simpsons won for an episode in which Bart raises a 4-H calf to win and had no idea he was going to be sold for slaughter at the end, so Bart and Lisa have to rescue him from the feedlot. I believe the RealSports episode on "Hidden Horses," tracing what happens to many racehorses after the track, also won. I met some guys who won for their documentary on carriage horses in NYC - apparently, they are living in tie stalls? WTF. What amazed me is that the guys didn't know anything about horses getting into this project - but after completing it, they had a better idea of what a horse needs to be happy than many people I've met who have had horses for years. I told them about the yahoo who is driving the horses cross-country who got hit and lost 2 horses - apparently said yahoo is trying to get back on the road. Maybe that can be his next documentary. I just don't think horses and motorized traffic mix. I wouldn't ride a bike in NYC due to the way people drive, so how can anybody think a horse is safe? You can catch Blinders on the Documentary Channel on DISH network, Monday, April 20 10 p.m. ET or Saturday, April 25 6 p.m. ET.

I was really pleased because it seemed like there were a lot more nominees that covered horse issues this year than in other years - maybe it's just that media coverage of these issues is increasing? Either way, it was good to see!

I did have to maintain my self-control and professionalism, so sadly I could not walk up to Madeleine Pickens and ask her just who is going to trim 120,000 mustang feet. Ah well. Another time. ;-) Madeleine has done a lot of things that I do agree with, so anytime she wants to contact me and give me an interview to answer these questions, she's most welcome to do so. As I've said before, I simply don't see how it is possible to provide proper care to that many horses no matter how much money you have, given that they are completely unhandled and are all going to be huge projects that most people aren't qualified to take on, no matter how much you pay them.

I know there are people who read this who don't like the HSUS because they don't hands-on rescue animals in the way most of us do, but that's not their purpose. What they do very well is advocacy - an event like this does a lot to educate people who may not have ever been around a horse about what a horse's basic needs are. It encourages those people to donate their money and get involved, particularly with legislation that makes life better for animals. It encourages people to start thinking about what is and is not an appropriate way to treat animals. Slaughter did not get banned in the U.S. without the help of large advocacy groups like HSUS that can fundraise and attack things at the legislative level, and double-decker transport and transport out of the country for slaughter won't get banned without their help.

For those of you who think HSUS is somehow secretly fronting for people who think all animal ownership should be banned, all I can say is that not everything is a conspiracy. There are some radical members of HSUS, but there are some radical members of anything. Look at our political parties. Most of the people I know at HSUS are animal owners who simply feel that we have a responsibility to treat them well. I used my "treating the horse like a good employee" analogy several times in conversation Saturday night, and nobody threw their champagne at me. I talked to a lot of people about the need for affordable, humane euthanasia of horses as a slaughter alternative and again - nobody freaked. And this is something the HSUS is actively working on.

Remember, this is all politics - a lot of the "OMG fear the radicals! They're going to steal your horses!" innuendo is produced by the pro-slaughter side as a divide-and-conquer tactic. Don't fall for it.

Lots of pics from the event on Oh No They Didn't.

Finally, for anyone in Santa Rosa, California who doesn't have to work this morning:

People v. Galvez pre-trial hearing.

At this pre-trial hearing, the judge will consider the prosecutor's case and decide whether the case can go to trial. Mr. Galvez is charged with Animal Cruelty. He was allegedly involved with the severely emaciated and dehydrated horse who was tied on Todd Road in 102 degree heat without food or water. The horse was later euthanized. They would like to have people who believe Galvez (who has hired a private attorney and is trying to escape prosecution) must be prosecuted attend the hearing. It is at 10 AM this morning at Sonoma County Superior Court, Courtroom 3, 600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa.
Katie Margason-Moore of the Sonoma County CHANGE Program at 707-544-7584 or with questions. (Yes, this is the woman who saved Argus!)