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Effort afoot to designate shelter animals as Michigan’s official state pet

Several other states recognize shelter animals as their official pet; rescue animals this week became the official state pet in Oklahoma.

LANSING, Mich. — For the second time in as many years, an effort is underway to designate shelter animals as the official pet of Michigan.

A House bill introduced this week mirrors one introduced in 2019. It doesn’t specify cats or dogs or anything else. If the animal is in a shelter, it would bear the title of “official pet of this state.’’ 

“This legislation would draw attention to the animal inhabitants of Michigan’s shelters and to the goal of finding their forever homes,” said Rep. Padma Kuppa, the lead sponsor.

Earlier this week, Oklahoma’s governor signed a bill designating rescue animals as the Oklahoma state pet.

The bill signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt doesn’t designate any one animal species as the state pet, leaving the field wide open for birds, beagles and barn cats.

Rescued and sheltered pets have been given official symbol status in other states, including California, Tennessee and Ohio.

Ohio joined the fold in 2019; part of a larger effort to raise awareness for shelter animals.

Kuppa, D-Troy, says she wants to call attention to shelter animals and euthanasia rates. Inspiration for the bill, she said, came from students in her southeast Michigan district.

A similar bill was introduced by Kuppa in April of 2019, but never made it out of committee.

"I do believe we should protect the vulnerable," Kuppa said in a 2019 interview. "People may see this as frivolous, my office has gotten some calls, but I believe that I'm advocating for my constituents. So, I believe I'm doing the right thing."

According to the Shelter Animals Count national database, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. 

House bill 4723 has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

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