Congressional caucus brings rescue animals to Capitol Hill

It isn’t every day you can make a member of Congress crack a smile by telling them the Russians are taking over the Capitol.

But you might just manage it if you’re a volunteer for a D.C.-area animal shelter, and the invader in question is a wide-eyed Russian Blue kitten. 

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Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), co-chairman of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, gladly took the opportunity to hold one of the 50 shelter dogs and cats visiting Capitol Hill for “Paws for Celebration,” which drew a huge crowd of pet-loving staffers to the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building on Tuesday. 

“We’d like to get far more of them adopted,” Moran said, noting that the majority of shelter animals are euthanized. He hoped the event would help “show the Hill staff that there are some wonderful animals here,” and predicted a number of adoptions would take place that day. 

Moran and the event’s other sponsors, including the ASPCA, also used the opportunity to talk up a recently announced resolution by the congressman that would urge states to ban the use of gas chambers for animal euthanasia. The practice occurs in at least 16 states; only 21 states explicitly ban it. 

“We regret any time an animal has to be euthanized, but if it has to be done, it must be done humanely,” Nancy Perry, senior vice president for governmental relations at the ASPCA, explained. “The gas chamber can cause an animal to suffer for 25 or 30 minutes before expiring, and that’s clearly inhumane.” 

Despite deep divisions in Congress, Perry was optimistic about passage of the resolution and other items on her association’s agenda, calling animal welfare issues “amazingly bipartisan.” 

Moran agreed, citing his years of cooperation with his co-chairman, retiring Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), as well as support on both sides of the aisle for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. “This may be one of those issues where we can transcend the political divide.”