Oregon Set to Join Other States in Making Shelter Animals the State Pet

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Oregon has no officially recognized state pet. Now, state lawmakers are moving to rectify that with a proposal to declare shelter dogs and cats the state pet.

As of late last month, a one-page declaration for the proposal, known as House Resolution 8, unanimously passed the House Committee on Rules before easily sailing through the House with 58 bipartisan votes in favor of and just one against. That sole holdout was Rep. Jamie Cate, R-Lebanon.

shelter cat
Photo: Pixabay/Daga_Roszkowska

The State Pet of Oregon

Now in the hands of the Senate rules committee, the proposal is scheduled to be discussed Thursday, February 16. Rep. David Gomberg, a co-chief sponsor of the proposal and himself a rescue-cat owner, stated that naming shelter pets as a state symbol would encourage adoptions and aid shelter pets, the adopting families, and taxpayers if passed.

“We spend millions each year for food, shelter, and medical care for animals in our public tax-subsidized shelters,” Gomberg, D-Otis, related to the Capital Chronicle in an email.

The resolution states that shelter pets and Oregonians share resilience, endurance, and the ability to overcome difficulties while declaring that both embrace optimism, even after undergoing “unimaginable hardship.” It also fittingly notes, “Oregon is the land of the second chance, something every shelter dog or cat deserves.”

shelter dog
Photo: Pixabay/jwvein

Shelter Pets

Many supporters offered written testimony or spoke in favor of the resolution. Among them were pet owners, veterinarians, lawmakers, and the president and CEO of the Oregon Humane Society, Sharon Harmon.

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“Oregonians adopt more than 18,000 cats and dogs from shelters every year,” Harmon wrote. “Shelter pets embody the rugged perseverance and strength that represents Oregon’s history and are valued across the state today. Each adopted pet’s story is a story of hope and optimism, a story of finding a home, and a story of love and connection.”

shelter pets
Photo: Pixabay/rohitink

Animal Advocacy

Written communications in favor of the plan pointed to the fact that Oregon ranks high among pet-friendly states (it’s 3rd according to BringFido) and that California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee have already designated shelter pets as their state pets. Rep. Gomberg fully expects the resolution to pass.

Another recent proposal, House Resolution 14, calls for the recognition of a state film for Oregon. The choice? The 1975 movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “The film won countless awards for its groundbreaking, humanistic portrayal of persons with mental illness and was shot almost entirely on location at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem,” the resolution states. While considered a classic film at this stage, the idea for that particular selection hasn’t gained much of a following so far.

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