'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 BlumenauerRestaurants brace for long COVID-19 winter Ahead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans Trump threatens to double down on Portland in other major cities 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 MarinoWhy the North Carolina special election has national implications The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania MORE (R-Pa.), Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenWomen rise on K Street — slowly Ex-Florida GOP congresswoman under federal investigation: report 'Trump show' convention sparks little interest on K Street MORE (R-Fla.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPelosi, Mnuchin continue COVID-19 talks amid dwindling odds for deal Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Hillicon Valley: Facebook to label posts if candidates prematurely declare victory | Supreme Court hears landmark B Google, Oracle copyright fight | House Dem accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intel MORE (D-Ill.) and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisBiden, Cunningham hold narrow leads in North Carolina: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states 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 KingAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans don't believe Democrats 'have the stones to play hardball' 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.