During Recess, Congress Goes to the Dogs

With their tails wagging, Maya and Cash trotted around House office buildings Tuesday to raise awareness for a bill to protect pets of domestic-violence victims. “If we could do this with all legislation, I think Congress would get more done,” said one delighted Hill staffer in Rep. Alcee L. Hastings' office when the dogs came through the door. Cash, a black-and-tan coonhound, had a blue pack on his back holding “Dear Colleague” letters urging members of Congress to support The Pet and Women Safety Act, sponsored by Reps. Katherine M. Clark, D-Mass., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. The bill expands protections to pets of domestic-violence victims and includes a grant program to incorporate pets into domestic-violence shelters. The tall hound is a regular visitor in Clark’s congressional office and belongs to the congresswoman’s chief of staff, Brooke Scannell. “He likes to sit in on meetings,” legislative assistant Steve Thornton joked. Maya, a light brown mix from the D.C. pound, joined Cash in the halls Tuesday. The energetic dog is often spotted in Ros-Lehtinen’s office and her owner is Josh Salpeter, the congresswoman’s legislative director. The dogs also emphasized bipartisanship — Cash sported a blue backpack while Maya had a red leash. They visited a dozen offices Tuesday and will likely be swinging by some more later this week. As they walked in to the offices, staffers emerged to pet the pooches and talk about their own dogs. When the dogs visited Rep. Ted Deutch’s office, a small white dog came bounding into the hallway to greet its fellow canines. The “Dear Colleague” letters also had pictures of the dogs with their representatives, which was part of an attempt to make their bill memorable. “We all get hundreds of ‘Dear Colleagues’ letters,” said Thornton, “so we thought the pictures would grab attention, on top of the fact, it seems like Hill staffers like dogs.” Related Story: 'Top Dog' Trends Emerge Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.
Topics: critters staffers