March 11, 2008
The HSUS Honors Lifelong Contributions of Sen. Byrd, Rep. Lantos
The Humane Society of the United States today bestowed its highest honor, the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, on Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who represented California's 12th Congressional District until his death on Feb. 11.
Lantos and Byrd are the 40th and 41st individuals to be honored with the Krutch Medal, and the first elected officials ever to receive it. Previous recipients have included Joy Adamson, Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, James Herriot and Richard Leakey.
HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle presented the awards to Dr. Katrina Swett, the congressman's daughter, and Joe Stewart, former Secretary of the Senate and a longtime friend and colleague of the senator, at a ceremony in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room of the U.S. Capitol.
"It is my deep honor to recognize the contributions of Senator Byrd and Congressman Lantos to the field of animal protection," Pacelle said. "As a co-founder of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, and with his wife Annette providing strong support, Tom Lantos was an exceptional leader in the struggle to establish concern for animals as an important public policy issue. Annette Lantos was by his side every step of the way, and they shared a deep passion for protecting animals from cruelty and abuse."
Of Sen. Byrd, Pacelle remarked, "There is only one man serving in the whole U.S. Congress who was there when the Humane Slaughter Act, the first modern federal animal protection statute, was passed in 1958. But it is not just the fact that Senator Byrd's political career encompasses the whole span of modern animal protection legislation that makes him special. It's the fact that he has weighed in powerfully when it really mattered, calling the attention of the entire nation to our responsibility for animals and their welfare."
A distinguished public intellectual who devoted his last years to defending nature and animals, Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970) epitomized the commitment to celebrating animals and confronting cruelty that has motivated The HSUS since its founding. In 1971, The HSUS commissioned distinguished medalist Ralph J. Menconi to design and sculpt a medal that, invoking Krutch's memory, recognizes individuals who have made a "significant contribution toward the improvement of life and the environment."
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.