'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 BlumenauerOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical 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).

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“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 Marino'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol In the shadow of another epidemic, we must protect our children Republicans refuse to back opioids bill sponsored by vulnerable Dem MORE (R-Pa.), Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenCook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (R-Fla.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyTrump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war MORE (D-Ill.) and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' North Carolina governor: We saw ‘significant damage’ in eastern part of state GOP senator on allegation against Kavanaugh: 'Why on Earth' wasn't it discussed earlier? 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 KingA Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Restoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks 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.