Connecting state and local government leaders

Shelter Animals Become Official State Pets

The Ohio resolution is meant to raise awareness of animals needing homes.

The Ohio resolution is meant to raise awareness of animals needing homes. Shutterstock

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Connecting state and local government leaders

To highlight the availability of adoptable animals at shelters, lawmakers in several states are giving them a special status.

If you live in Ohio and want to take home the official state pet, just head to the nearest animal shelter.

As of March 20, any pet adopted from an animal shelter qualifies as the Buckeye State’s official pet. The change, included in Senate Bill 86, was made “to raise public awareness of shelter animals” and comes a year after state legislators passed comprehensive legislation cracking down on puppy mills.

The Humane Society of the United States praised the move on Twitter, saying the resolution would bring attention to “shelter animals & shelters throughout Ohio which are full of wonderful, family-ready pets.”

A similar measure is under consideration in Texas, where a pending resolution to anoint “rescue shelter dogs and cats” notes that “of all the jumbo-sized qualities that make the Lone Star State such a distinctive place, it is the big-hearted generosity of its people that is most special, and shelter animals are fitting symbols of Texans’ enduring ability to make the world a better place by helping those in need.”

In Oregon, a proposed resolution to change the state pet to “rescued shelter dogs and cats” notes that both Oregonians and shelter pets “are eager to leave their indoor confines and join their friends in the freedom, beauty and adventure of Oregon’s great outdoors.”

Other states have passed similar measures in recent years. Colorado and Tennessee both named rescue dogs and cats as their official state pets, while Illinois opted for “shelter dogs and cats.” “Shelter pets” reign supreme in California, while an “adoptable dog” is the top pooch in Georgia.

The Humane Society supports each of those measures.

“At the HSUS, we‘re all about adoption,” Kitty Block, the organization’s president and CEO, wrote in a blog post.  “Like my Lilly, who was a street dog, these pets...are resilient and make amazing companions. And they have one more thing in common: each won over their parents’ hearts within moments of meeting them.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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