February 26, 2006

Leon, (and the animal community), [editor's note: this is a response to the letter, below]

I applaud your support of my favorite group, the Paw Project. However, you are denying the first amendment by not allowing people to state what they feel with this protest. I have not stated yet, one way or the other, my feelings of the protest. I understand both sides, but I can say that America is wonderful because we can protest big business and stop "possible" monopolies and politics by allowing the "little people" to speak. Even your request for everyone to not protest at the Genesis Awards, is exercising your first amendment rights.

Leon, there were many that saw first hand, including my mom, (who lost her home in Katrina), that the lead agency of Katrina, (HSUS), had failed. So much to the extent HSUS sent out an apology letter, which I have. Please have feelings for those on the other side of the fence that witnessed their own pet babies dead while hearing of the mega millions that HSUS has made from these people's loss and disaster. Most that want to protest were actual HSUS volunteers who were eye witnesses or owners who donated hoping it would save their pets. Allow these poor people to voice their frustration.
The same example would be true, for example, that if you wanted to protest IAMs, because of their animal experimentation, you go to the top umbrella...that would be Procter and Gamble, right? If you want to boycott a show that aired animal cruelty, you boycott the show's sponsors. Right? As sad as that may seem, this is business and it works.
No one is arguing that the Genesis Awards is not good. I have heard Gretchen Wyler is absolutely wonderful and I want to applaud her for all she has done to help with animals. There is no doubt that the Genesis Awards is needed and should go on. Gretchen will shine March 18th, with or without the HSUS boycott, for her tremendous contributions she has given to animals. I am not even denying that HSUS, in the past, has done other fantastic things.

Still, be open and ask who should be responsible for the many Katrina animals that died in their cages or were left behind to slowly starve to death, ironically while millions were being donated to HSUS. Why shouldn't people be allowed to use a public platform that has a partnership with HSUS?

THIS WAS THE BIGGEST HISTORICAL DISASTER FOR ANIMALS, yet HSUS had the media convinced everything was OK, though they left early, while still doing fundraisers, making enough money to have helped the animals that died.
My family and friends followed up what HSUS did and were VERY upset to find the animals rescued from HSUS, were dumped in the local over crowded shelters, so HSUS could leave early, while still asking for donations in the media. Sadly, most of those animals were shot!!! WE HAVE VIDEO AND PROOF OF THIS!!!

Leon, people are justified in their anger and I don't think these same people are willing to see AGAIN, HSUS get false credit doing a great job with Katrina, while it was really the volunteers, military and other small organizations that were ignored for being the real rescuers. BEST FRIENDS was left with the mess and yet, along with other small organizations, is still continuing to do a damn good job, considering the situation. Leon, why is it that BEST FRIENDS can get all the harsh criticisms and yet HSUS and their partners get all the glory in the media and escape all the problems still going on from Katrina??

Still, I stand with you that Gretchen Wyler and the Genesis Awards has been important to the animal movement, we should all pay tribute to Gretchen, and our prayers go out for Gretchen right now......but the HSUS protest makes a very important message; even if we like an organization, (or an event), people still have the right to protest, so they can show their lack of support for their business partners. How can we learn from Katrina if we don't hold those in charge, (HSUS), responsible?

By the way, though I have asked HSUS several times how much money they received during Katrina, they have avoided that question with everyone, though by law, they are supposed to tell you, when asked. Instead, HSUS only listed their grants to me, never telling me the total donations received for Katrina. I even went on Howard Stern with my frustration asking everyone to call HSUS to ask what they got in total, and what kind of bonus did they receive?

Shane and Sia Barbi, Founders




I am Leon Seidman, President of Cosmic Pet Products. Most of you know of Cosmic Catnip, the Alpine Scratchier and some of my of my other products. I have sponsored and supported the other products. Many of you also know of my support of Jen Conrad and the Paws Project.

I have sponsored and supported the Geniuses Awards as well as many other worthy animal organizations and events for many years. Even though I am in business I have spent most of my professional life trying to help and make a difference for the welfare of animals. Some may say ( as I often joke) that I am a dilettante, just playing at being an activist. There is truth to that only as far as to realize that I will not commit economic suicide by being so rigid in my actions as to destroy my business and leave the field of battle in the hands of others who care not at all for animal welfare and our ultimate goal of a society where all living beings are treated with respect.

I am sticking my nose into this discussion about protesting the Geniuses Awards with a lot of emotion. I know I'm not in contact with most of you and most of you do not know me.

But I feel so strongly about this that I am butting in and I beg your pardon as well as your attention.


This is the retirement event of Grechen Wyler. She has given her life to create an event and an organization that shines the light on the world of animals both the good an the bad. This event is an educational as well as an out reach experience. People know Diddly Squat about the suffering of animals are exposed to truths and motivated to help. This is where my eyes were opened. Just one evening of having my head beaten about with images of pain and suffering resulted in all the work that I do and the money and product that I donate.

No bull people this is serious stuff. Gary Michelson will be attending. We want to show him what? That we have no clue how to fight our battles and where to fight them. And who of you that protests think that this action will make him inclined to help your organization or do any more with his own? He is just getting started so let's mess up his mind.

I am bringing a representative from a major fortune 500 company. I have been working on them for over a year to get them to the point that they will send someone to look at our issues. They have the ability to put mega millions on the table to do good for animals. But no businessperson, except perhaps me, will deal with the hassles, bad press and stockholder fears that comes with street actions.

I know of why you are upset with HSUS. I know good people who went to New Orleans to help and were appalled. The money issues, Wayne's Salary and the HSUS corporate mentality are valid issues. I truly think there is justification for dissatisfaction with HSUS. But please not then and not there.

The reason HSUS has the Ark Trust is because without their help the Geniuses Awards would have folded. This event does so much good that to use it for political opportunity, no matter how righteous, is a crime. Grechen Wyler has done so much good for so long that to ruin her goodbye ( did you know her cancer has returned?) will be a sin. To disrupt this event while moneyed people with good intentions are becoming involved with our cause is traitorous.

If I was in front of you I would be on bended knee with tears in my eyes. I am a small and unimportant person. I have no great platform upon which to stand and my voice is not familiar to your ears. But please, I beg again, do not protest The Genius Awards. Find another time and another place. Let this one go.

Thank you for your time.

Leon Seidman