Paw-sitive Press For Strays: Ohio Names Shelter Animals the Official State Pet


* WARNING: This article contains extremely cheesy animal puns. Read at your own risk!*


The dog days are looking a little brighter for rescues and shelter pets in Ohio! Joining states such as Colorado, California, Illinois, Tennessee, and Georgia, Ohio has formally anointed the shelter pet as the state pet. Although Ohio already has a state bird (northern cardinal) , mammal (white-tailed deer), reptile (black racer snake), amphibian (spotted salamander), frog (American bullfrog) and insect (the ladybug), the addition of the shelter pet is set apart by its unique task- to raise awareness for the millions of animals up for adoption in shelter homes.

This sentiment is deserving of applause (or rather, ap-paws!) Typically, the state pet is a specific breed of animal. By naming all shelter pets as the collective state pet, Ohio is fighting the notion that purebred animals are more noble or more respectable than the equally adorable and loving mixes you might find at the shelter. With shelter dogs, their bark is generally considered to be worse than their bite; rescue dogs, especially pitbulls, are often unfairly considered to be more violent or dangerous than a purebred dog.

According to the ASPCA’s current data, the most common method to obtain a pet dog is through a breeder, accounting for roughly 34% of all pet dogs. Meanwhile, an estimated 6.3 million animals enter shelters each year, and can be stray animals or ones separated from their owners. Roughly 3.3 million of these are dogs. Unfortunately, the influx of new animals tends to overwhelm the shelters taking them in. It is not uncommon for shelters to euthanize animals who are sick or unlikely to be adopted- around 1.5 million animals are euthanized a year. While these statistics are heartbreaking, the future is looking up for these animals. These numbers have declined by about a million since 2011, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

Ohio’s decision is in partnership with the Shelter Pet Project, who have a bone to pick with this unfair stigma. They’ve started the hashtag #adoptpurelove to spread stories about the “special qualities of shelter pets and the incredible bond between every shelter pet and parent.” With even more movements like these gathering momentum from animal rights advocates, the future looks paw-sitively bright for shelter pets all across the country.