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'The Birds' star Tippi Hedren earns Humane Society's Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award

March 21, 2010 | 12:54 pm

Tippi1 There may not be much members of Congress can agree on, but Democrats and Republicans come together on at least one thing: Tippi Hedren rocks.

The animal activist and former movie actress co-wrote the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which bans interstate commerce in exotic cats for the pet industry. Both houses passed it unanimously in 2003, and the president signed it into law a week after a 10-year-old boy in North Carolina was mauled by his aunt's pet tiger.

Not bad for a Hitchcock blond. The Humane Society of the United States thought so too and honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday evening in Beverly Hills. The event was the 24th annual Genesis Awards, recognizing film, TV and print media that promote animal welfare. (Click on the image below for more photos from the event.)

Tippi gallery promo  Before presenting the award to her mother, actress Melanie Griffith mused that her mom had won a Golden Globe for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." "Isn't it ironic that after that film she went on to become an animal advocate?"

Now that you mention it -- Hedren founded the Shambala Preserve for abandoned captive-born exotic felines in the Mojave Desert, where she's the den mother to 68 lions, tigers, servals, cougars and leopards cast off by circuses, private owners and zoos.

"I had to have help getting up these stairs because I've been tackled by so many lions and tigers," she said when she reached the podium in the packed ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "Really. I'm like an old football player."

All of which should explain Griffith's exotic upbringing ...

Nubs ... "When I was 13," she told the crowd, "we got our first lion."

How many kids can say that?

The event also honored the films "Up," "Hotels for Dogs" and "The Cove" as well as TV shows "Family Guy," "Bones," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Today" and TV stations KCBS and KCAL in Los Angeles. It drew Hollywood animal lovers including Jon Lovitz, Michael Vartan, Kristen Bell, Wendie Malick, Teri Hatcher, Emily Deschanel, Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Brosnan, Ginnifer Goodwin and more.

But those bold-facers weren't the only celebrities there, because this Hollywood event was a horse of a different color. Standing ovations went to Joe St. Georges, the firefighter who rescued a German shepherd from the L.A. River in January, and Maj. Brian Dennis and his dog, Nubs, who traveled more than 70 miles in the Iraqi desert to find him.

Dennis, who wrote a children's book about his buddy -- "Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle" -- explained how they met when Dennis was patrolling the civilian border in Iraq.

Rescue dog Nubs, so named because "the bad guys" had cut off part of his ears, began following Dennis around. Insurgents retaliated by stabbing the dog and leaving him for dead. The Marine rescued him and then left for another combat post.

"Forty-eight hours later, he came to our base camp all chewed up and beat up," Dennis said. "It just goes to show: Sometimes you don't pick the dog, the dog picks you."

-- Irene Lacher

Top photo: Tippi Hedren speaks during the 24th Genesis Awards on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Credit:  Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Second photo: Hedren is presented the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Awards by her daughter, Melanie Griffith. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Third photo: Maj. Brian Dennis' dog Nubs checks out Ginnifer Godwin on the Genesis Awards red carpet.  Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Bottom: Joe St. Georges during the rescue of Spikey from the L.A. River in Vernon on Jan. 22. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times. 

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:

Shelter pets get Ellen DeGeneres' stamp of approval

Jesse James' dog Cinnabun is found and returned home!

Wendie Malick, Kelly Carlson unleash wild horses on Capitol Hill

PREACH IT! In Hollywood, the march of the pig continues

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