'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol

Lawmakers and staff took a break from their work on Wednesday to swoon over puppies and kittens at an animal adoption event on Capitol Hill.

The “Paws for Celebration” event sought to raise awareness for shelter animals and rescue organizations across the country by bringing animals in need of a home to the Rayburn House Office Building.

Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Businesses need bank accounts — marijuana shops included Dem senator introduces S. 420 bill that would legalize marijuana MORE (D-Ore.), co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, said nothing gives him “greater satisfaction” than attending the biannual event hosted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).


“At a time when there are some strange divisions and confusion and crankiness on Capitol Hill, what you see here is [an] outpouring of bipartisan interest and support,” Blumenauer said.

“You watch people's hearts melt with puppies and kittens.”

Other lawmakers attending the event included Reps. Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoPennsylvania governor sets special election date for GOP Marino’s seat The Hill's Morning Report — Nasty shutdown fight gets nastier GOP Rep. Tom Marino resigns from Congress MORE (R-Pa.), Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Fla.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHouse panel to hold hearing on data privacy legislation Democrat vows to move forward with impeachment, dividing his party Hillicon Valley: Dems ready to subpoena Trump Tower meeting phone records | Dems, Whitaker in standoff over testimony | Bezos accuses National Enquirer of 'extortion' | Amazon offers rules for facial recognition | Apple releases FaceTime fix MORE (D-Ill.) and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration GOP senator dedicates heart photo to wife from Senate floor for Valentine's Day MORE (R-N.C.). Also attending was former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.).

Tillis was particularly attached to a black labrador puppy named “Encore,” so called because he was the last in the litter.

“They say, on Capitol Hill, If you want a friend, get a dog,” Tillis jokingly told The Hill.

More than 6.5 million animals enter shelters nationwide each year, about half of whom are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

The group is currently lobbying Congress on three different bills that would cut down on the time rescue animals seized by the federal government are held in shelters, protect the pets of survivors of domestic violence, and ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

“This event is really just to shine a light on the need of animals and rescues and shelters, and to give staff a chance to decompress,” said Richard Patch, ASPCA’s vice president of federal affairs and government relations.

“This is the only event on Capitol Hill where everyone leaves happy,” Patch told The Hill.

The summertime is also “officially kitten season,” Patch noted. The ASPCA is launching a new campaign in order to better respond to the annual spike in kitten births in the spring and summer.

“'The Meow for Now' campaign strives to raise awareness about the critical need for kitten fostering nationwide. We're encouraging congressional offices to take in kittens that need a temporary home,” he said.

According to ASPCA representatives, many offices have expressed interest. The staff of Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingDrama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry Warner, Burr split on committee findings on collusion Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs MORE (I-Maine) registered to begin fostering kittens in the next few weeks.

“I have two cats, a dog, and I’m looking at a second dog, and my wife knows about this today, and she says 'If you come home with another animal, you are going to the barn and the animal can stay here,'” said Marino. “I just love animals, they are just so beautiful.”

Organizers and lawmakers alike agreed that there is broad bipartisan support for the cause.

“Look, if you can find a partisan basis for animal adoption, you should find another line of work,” Tillis said.