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Children are no strangers to standing up for homeless pets. They are known for slipping sandwich crusts to the homeless dog that dared to enter school grounds, somehow finding the time and patience to make friends with the cats everyone thought were feral and untamable, and begging endlessly to bring an animal into the home. What parent hasn't heard, "Mom, Dad, can we get a pet?"
Now, children in Colorado are taking it to the next level. According to the Denver Post, it was schoolchildren that introduced a bill to establish a Colorado state pet. Eleven states have state dogs, including the Boston Terrier in Massachusetts, the Great Dane in Pennsylvania, and the Catahoula Leopard dog in Louisiana. Maine even lists the Maine Coon cat as its state cat, and Maryland the calico. All require specific breeds or colorations, or combinations thereof, but these traits did not play a part in selecting the pet nominated by Colorado's children.
These children chose to make compassion – their compassion – the overriding requirement of selecting a proper representative for their state. Proposed SB 201 would officially make shelter and rescue dogs and cats the state pet of Colorado. "It's important to honor the voice of the voiceless," said one 14-year-old who stood with his classmates to support the bill, speaking to a packed room.
Despite opposition from members of the pet industry, retailers, groomers, breeders, and dog clubs, the bill has a good chance at passing. And who knows? The pride and publicity that goes with being an official state pet might just bring more people to Colorado's shelters, increasing the number of adoptions in the state and across the country.