Capitol Hill Goes To The Dogs

For Abby the Shih Tzu mix, Tuesday was a big day. Until last Friday, when she was picked up by animal shelter Homeward Trails, she had been roaming the streets of Washington. On Tuesday, however, Abby got a chance to find a new home at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s Paws for Celebration adoption drive (yes, that was a mouthful)  in the Cannon Caucus Room.

Abby, just 1 year old, wasn’t alone. About 50 other dogs, and some cats, from seven animal shelters around D.C. wandered around the room as swarms of people ate “pupcakes” (cupcakes with pictures of dogs on them) and bent down to pet the animals, while some applied to adopt a new pet.

Among the throng of guests were members of the media who were seen ogling the dogs (we weren’t the only ones). Hannah Jeffrey, a Houston Chronicle intern, could barely tear herself away from Abby (her hands are seen around the pooch’s neck on the next page), and was soon on the phone asking her parents for permission to adopt the dog. Jeffrey applied for adoption despite her parents’ hesitation, hoping photos of her with the dog could sway their decision.

Other media outlets represented include HuffPost, Reuters, Roll Call, Scripps Howard and U.S. News & World Report.

Jessica Johnson, ASPCA’s senior manager for grassroots advocacy, said the planning started about a month and a half ago. All the shelters at the event had a hand in making it come together.

In addition to the Paws for Celebration event last year, ASPCA also organized a similar Paws for Love event in February. Johnson said it’s a way to give Capitol Hill a much-needed break.

“There’s a lot of tension in Congress sometimes, and this is an event where members from both sides of the aisle can come together and they can agree on dogs and cats,” Johnson said.

Many Hill staffers, along with journalists, were among the throngs of people petting the dogs and asking for their names.

Since the dogs were only able to bark, staff and volunteers from the various shelters and ASPCA gave us the animals’ names and stories.

Here are a few that we met.

This is Abby as she met a potential new owner.


Peanut (left) and Butter, both Chihuahuas, have been together their entire lives and will be adopted as a pair.


Sneakers is listed as a Terrier mix, but no one is sure what breed he is.


Happy is an eight-year-old Pomeranian who has mild hip dysplasia, but he keeps a positive outlook on life.


Rollie Pollie Ollie was one of the few felines on Capitol Hill today.


Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va), co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, spoke to the crowd while holding Butter, who stole the show. Moran encouraged everyone present to adopt a pet, noting that one of his staffers did just that.

Nancy Perry, ASPCA’s vice president of government relations, said events like these are only part of the organization’s involvement in the legislative process. Perry said ASPCA works with the government regularly on more serious issues, such as horse-slaughtering and animal fighting.

She said that this was the lightest event of the year, and that the organization had taken every step in the planning process to ensure the room wouldn’t be damaged.

“It’s a beautiful room, so we spread plastic on the floor to make sure the Cannon Caucus Room doesn’t sustain any serious damage,” she  said.

The room appeared to be handling the event quite well, and suffered only from serious cuteness.

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