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Lawmakers propose shelter pet be designated Ohios official state pet

(August 29, 2017) — Ohio has the northern cardinal as the state bird and the white-tailed deer as the state animal, but comes up short in regards to a state pet.

New legislation, however, could change that. Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, introduced a bill recently that would designate a shelter pet as Ohio’s official state pet.

“When you see photos or see (shelter pets) in person, you see the dejected look in their eyes,” Lanese said.

Lanese, the proud owner of two shelter dogs, wants to raise awareness for shelter pets through the bill.

“Hopefully this is something that will spread the word to those who are less-informed on this issue,” Lanese said.

Each year 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide and 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals.

The ASPCA supports Lanese’s bill and is working with her.

“ASPCA encourages people to make make adoption their first option. We welcome this legislation as it will honor the millions of lovable homeless dogs and cats across Ohio currently waiting to be adopted in shelters,” said Vicki Deisner, ASPCA state legislative director for the Midwest Region.

If the bill passes, Ohio would join California, Colorado, Georgia and Tennessee as states that recognize rescued pets as state symbols.

This is not the first bill Lanese is sponsoring that focuses on animals.

She introduced a bill back in June that would allow dogs on restaurant patios, after the Columbus public-health administrator sent a letter to restaurants in May reminding them live animals are not permitted on the premises of a food-service or food retail operation, with the expectation of service dogs. Dogs on patios violates health codes, but some cities impose stricter enforcement than others.

Lanese, who wants businesses to have the option for dogs to be on patios, she said is adding language to the bill to clarify that dogs would only be allowed on outdoor patios.

She has heard from business owners that they have seen drastic cuts in their businesses since the May letter circulated.

Last week, Sen. Bill Coley introduced a nearly identical bill that would allow dogs on patios, so state legislators in both chambers will have dogs bills to attend to when they return to session.