Each year, approximately 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States because too many pets come into shelters and too few Americans consider adoption when searching for a pet. Indeed, if just 25 percent more Americans adopted a loving shelter pet instead of buying one, this sad specter of innocent animals dying could end completely.

At the Humane Society of the United States, we work tirelessly to educate and alert Americans to the plight of shelter animals and to the priceless opportunity we all have to save a life and find a new, loving, forever friend.

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And so we applaud the bipartisan effort of Reps. Roger WilliamsRoger WilliamsHouse approves extra funding for lawmaker security GOP baseball manager gives emotional speech before delivering trophy to Scalise’s office Lawmakers celebrate National Selfie Day on Twitter MORE (R-Texas) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), joined by more than a dozen additional Members of Congress introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.Res. 133, a resolution officially designating April 11 as “National Pet Adoption Day” and the month of April as “National Pet Adoption Month”. Williams and Veasey are urging President Trump to issue a proclamation calling upon the American people to observe “National Pet Adoption Day” and “National Pet Adoption Month” with appropriate activities to encourage the adoption of pets from local animal shelters and rescues organizations.

Rep. Williams and Veasey recognize that Animal Welfare isn’t a partisan cause.  It’s especially heartening to see Members of Congress working across the aisle to help all of us to see the tremendous benefits of pet adoption.

At the heart of this legislation is the recognition that Americans often simply don’t know about the plight of these innocent animals. They often know little about the scourge of puppy mills, which produce millions of animals for the commercial market, animals often raised without love or care, often in ill health, frequently with no socialization.  Every day, we meet people who respond with surprise and concern to learn about the dark side of the commercial pet market, as well as the urgent need for homes for innocent and healthy animals facing death sentences in shelters. Many of us simply don’t realize how easy and satisfying it is to adopt a shelter or rescue pet.

The Humane Society of the United States has partnered with Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council to produce and distribute millions of dollars’ worth of public service announcements to promote pet adoption.  Our goal is to “make shelters the first place potential adopters turn when looking to get a new pet, ensuring that all healthy and treatable pets find loving homes.” Interested prospective adopters can log on to  www.theshelterpetproject.org, and search for an adoptable pet by zip code.

The experience of adopting a pet needing a forever home is immensely moving, satisfying and joyful.  My own dog, Rocco, ended up in a local shelter through no fault of his own. He was terrified, lonely, disoriented.  But when my wife and I had the good fortune to meet him, he let us know that he wanted to come home with us. He’s been a joy in our lives for seven years since then, a 90-pound, sweet and loving pooch who is warming people’s hearts (and changing people’s minds about pit bulls) every day.

We hope you’ll join us in support of adopting pets by taking action today. Contact your Member of Congress and ask him or her to co-sponsor Williams’ and Veasey’s H.Res. 133, declaring April 11 “National Pet Adoption Day” and the month of April “National Pet Adoption Month.”

And if you’re thinking about adding a loving pet to your family, please consider visiting your local shelter or contacting one of the many tireless and dedicated rescue groups in your community. Your own Rocco most certainly awaits you.

Eric Bernthal, who resides in Potomac, Maryland, is the chairman of the board at The Humane Society of the United States.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.