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The HSUS Honors Humane Federal Legislators of 2008

Nation's Largest Animal Protection Group Recognizes the Work of 148 Members of Congress

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than 11 million supporters nationwide, and its affiliate, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, have announced the winners of  the 2008 Humane Legislator Awards.

Top honors for federal legislators went to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., as the Humane Senator of the Year for his leadership on addressing abuses at large-scale puppy mills, banning puppy imports from foreign mills, improving pet food safety, and ending the slaughter of downed animals for human consumption, and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., as the Humane Representative of the Year for his leadership on legislation to toughen the federal laws against animal fighting, ban horse slaughter, and establish a federal mechanism for tracking animal cruelty crimes.

"We commend Senator Durbin and Representative Conyers for raising their extraordinarily effective voices for animal protection policies in the U.S. Congress," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "They have been in the forefront on so many of the most pressing threats facing the health and well-being of animals, and we are enormously grateful for their compassion and tenacity."

Pacelle and HSLF President Michael Markarian will present the awards this evening at a reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Room HC-6 of the Capitol.

Every year, the Humane Society Legislative Fund compiles a federal Humane Scorecard to provide a snapshot of animal protection issues considered by the U.S. Congress and give animal advocates a tool to assess the performance of their Senators and Representatives. The Humane Scorecard lets constituents see if their legislators are taking action to help protect animals. The scorecard tracks key votes as well as co-sponsorship of important pro-animal bills and signing an annual letter seeking funds needed to enforce key animal welfare laws. For 2008, in addition to the top awards for Sen. Durbin and Rep. Conyers:

  • Humane Champion awards will go to 30 legislators who exhibited leadership on an animal welfare issue and also received a perfect score on the 2008 Humane Scorecard.
  • Legislative Leader awards will go to 81 legislators for their leadership as prime sponsors of pro-animal legislation.
  • Humane Advocate awards will go to 35 legislators who received a perfect score on the 2008 Humane Scorecard.

In total, 148 legislators — more than one-third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House (representing 42 states and two U. S. territories) — will receive awards for their work in 2008.

"More members of Congress than ever before are helping forge a path to a more humane future through their demonstrated leadership on animal protection legislation each year," said Markarian. "Our anti-cruelty laws are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and we thank these legislative leaders for taking measurable steps forward for animals in the United States."

Previous recipients of the Humane Legislator of the Year Award include Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., in 2005; Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., in 2006; and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., in 2007.

To see the complete list of 2008 awardees, please click here.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at hslf.org.