Heard on the Hill

Puppies Looking for Homes Take Over Cannon

ASPCA's pet adoption event celebrates the organization's 150th anniversary

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., holds a puppy as he prepares to pose at the photo booth during the ASPCA’s PAWS 150th birthday event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The annual event in which staffers and lawmakers gush over puppies happened on Wednesday, and that's exactly what happened.  

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals fifth annual “Paws for Celebration” also marked the organization's 150th anniversary.  

The pet adoption event attracted Florida Democrat Rep. Gwen Graham, Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, New Jersey Democrat Rep. Donald Norcross — who all did their fair share of gushing over puppies — and included remarks from Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.  

Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick are the co-chairmen of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus , which supported the event. Longtime pet lover former Sen. Bob Dole , R-Kansas, also made an appearance.

“This is an opportunity for members to come together in ways that they can’t always on the floor of the Capitol,” said Nancy Perry, ASPCA’s senior vice president of government relations.  

“There’s a lot of partisanship this time of year during an election; we’re seeing a lot of tension. But when people come through this door and they see these dogs and cats, their hearts just melt. We’re hopeful that it also helps mend some fences,” she said.  

Maria Formoso, of Rep. Robert Brady's office, holds a dog during the ASPCA’s PAWS 150th birthday event in the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Maria Formoso, of Rep. Robert Brady's office, holds a dog during the ASPCA’s PAWS 150th birthday event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Cannon Caucus Room was full by midday of homeless puppies, kittens, larger dogs and a stuffed, fake miniature pony.  

Even if pets don’t get adopted right at the event, every year sees a ripple effect that some are adopted later, Perry said.  

The Animal Welfare Leagues of Alexandria and Arlington, Bully Paws Pit Bull Patriots and Fairfax County Animal Shelter brought the dogs for face-licking fun.  

Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue and Project Horse spread the word about adopting horses while groups like Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation brought in furry friends looking for homes.  

Complete with a photo booth, lint rollers and lemonade, the event was packed with dozens of Senate and House staffers and interns.  

“[The event] gives us a chance to talk about the importance of pets in our lives and how much joy they bring us, how they help our health to have them in our lives and all the ways that they are part of our community,” Perry said.  

Besides a few barks here and there, the puppies were all well behaved and very eager to be held by attendees. And, ASPCA had the floor covered with plastic just in case.  

ASPCA was the first animal welfare organization in North America and is a nonprofit to help prevent cruelty towards animals.

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