'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 BlumenauerLobbying world Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Progressives oppose spending stopgap measure over surveillance authority extension 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).

ADVERTISEMENT

“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-LehtinenEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Republican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district MORE (R-Fla.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyBig Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash MORE (D-Ill.) and Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Tillis challenges eventual Democratic rival to five debates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi says impeachment articles coming 'soon' as pressure builds 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 KingCongress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Democrats brace for round two of impeachment witness fight The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases 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.