BEVERLY HILLS — The Humane Society of the United States’ 26th Genesis Awards were presented March 24 with “Dancing with the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba as host.

The actress, singer, dancer and choreographer, who started the 14th season of ABC’s “DWTS” on March 19, opened the gala ceremony at the Beverly Hilton alongside Uggie, the scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier from the Academy Award-winning movie “The Artist.”

Carrie Ann Inaba on the red carpet. (Photo by Tim Long/Long Photography)

Honoring efforts in the news and entertainment media to raise public awareness of animal issues, the event will be shown as a one-hour special on Animal Planet on May 5 at 4 p.m. and May 6 at 8 a.m.

Known for her compassion for animals, Inaba brought her signature vitality and enthusiasm to the show, clearly enjoying sharing the stage with Uggie. The two new friends not only co-presented the Best Feature Film award but also opened the show with a surprise segment in which the canine movie icon “spoke up” for his fellow creatures.

To ensure that the Genesis Awards didn’t go entirely to the dogs, Inaba introduced her new online series, “Crib Cats,” designed to find loving homes for shelter kitties. It’s hosted by Kit, a beautiful matchmaking feline, who introduces viewers to shelter cats in dire need of a human companion and a safe haven to call home.

“I’m honored to have been asked to host an awards show that is both a celebration and a consciousness raiser,” said Inaba. “In a busy awards season, the Genesis Awards stands out as an event that has true meaning in the larger scope of things — it’s the Oscars for animals and the people in the media who give voice to their plight.”

The Genesis Awards recognized “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” as the Outstanding Feature Film for its examination of the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research.

CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” received the Dramatic Series award for the episode “Lapa’au,” which dealt with animal poaching.

For the second year running, the Sid Caesar Comedy Award was given Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” for offering a satirical twist on the whaling issue and a Utah legislator’s proposal to kill feral dogs and cats.

Ellen DeGeneres picked up Outstanding Talk Show honors for an interview with HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle about dog fighting and puppy mills.

From a rich field of documentaries and reality series, the Morgan Freeman-narrated IMAX documentary “Born to Be Wild 3D” emerged as the winner of the Feature Documentary prize for its celebration of the people rehabilitating baby elephants and orangutans orphaned by poaching and habitat encroachment.

BBC America’s “Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait” snagged Outstanding TV Documentary for its fearless exposé of shark-finning, and “Animal Planet Investigates: Captive Hunting Exposed” received the Outstanding Reality Series award for pulling back the curtain on the so-called sport of “hunting” tame animals trapped in fenced pens.

The Genesis Awards honored ABC’s “20/20”in the TV Newsmagazine category for exposing inhumane conditions at an egg factory farm. “NBC Nightly News” was recognized with the Outstanding National News award for multiple issues, including the fate of horses used by smugglers to cross the border. The Morning News Show award went to NBC’s Jill Rappaport of “Today” for a series of reports on the dedicated rescuers of homeless pets.

The culturally influential Vanity Fair was given the nod for an extensive look at the escalating ivory trade decimating African elephants. McClatchy Newspapers was cited for a series of articles spotlighting the inhumane treatment of chimpanzees in scientific research, and The clinched the Online Award for reporting on the politics of wild horse management and round-ups.

Deepak Chopra presented the annual Genesis Awards’ prestigious Wyler Award via video from New York to Ian Somerhalder, star of the hit series “The Vampire Diaries,” for spreading the word about critical animal issues via both traditional and social media platforms.

Indian media icon Pritish Nandy was honored with the International Humanitarian Award for his work in advancing animal welfare in India and for championing the country’s beleaguered street dogs.

Other winners included Nickelodeon’s “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” (Children’s Programming), PBS’ “Sid the Science Kid” (Preschool), and “KTLA News at 10” (Local News, Feature).

“We paid tribute to an amazing array of works that address animal protection concerns, but the real winners of the HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards are the animals themselves, who rely on these invaluable voices to speak for them,” says Beverly Kaskey, senior director of the HSUS Hollywood Outreach program and executive producer of the Genesis Awards.

Celebrity presenters and attendees included Kaley Cuoco, Bill Maher, Colbie Caillat, Ke$ha, Jason Ritter, Sophia Bush, Kristin Bauer van Straten, John Bernthal, Rose McGowan, Wendie Malick, Moby, Cloris Leachman, Fiona Gubelmann, Penelope Ann Miller, Pauley Perrette, Michael Vartan, and Wilmer Valderrama.

The awards are sponsored in part by Misix, Market Development Group, The InterGroup Corporation, Hilton San Francisco Financial District, One Car One Difference, Prai Beauty Group, Tenet, Euro RSCG Edge, Honda, IMAX, Warner Bros., The Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation, American Dog Rescue and Modern Dog.

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