At 8-years-old, Ethan Branscum of Frankfort, Kentucky, made the news in his mission to make shelter pets the official state pet of Kentucky. However, his sights are ultimately bigger, to make rescue pets the official symbolic pet of the United States.
By raising awareness about shelter animals, Branscum hopes to help find them forever homes.
“I think that these animals deserve good homes, forever homes. I just think that these animals deserves forever homes,” Ethan said. “They don’t deserve to have to spend their entire life in the shelter.”
Inspired to Save Shelter Animals in Kentucky
One day, Ethan’s mother, Miche Branscum, saw a news article that immediately inspired her son to save shelter pets.
“We saw a news article about Ohio naming rescue pets the official state pet,” said Miche. “And he said, ‘Mom, that’s a good idea. Why don’t we do that?’ So, we walked through the steps of contacting a legislator.”
Notably, in 2019, Ohio approved the legislation, with similar bills previously passed in Colorado, California, Georgia, Illinois, and Tennessee. Likewise, Texas and Oregon considered similar measures, according to the Humane Society.
At the time, the organization cheered the move in Ohio:
“This designation will help raise public awareness for shelter animals and the many shelters throughout Ohio which are full of wonderful, family-ready pets,” the organization said in a statement. “Animal shelters and rescues always have a great selection of animals looking for new homes.”
Ethan Branscum Contacts Kentucky Representatives
Soon after learning about Ohio, Ethan contacted Rep. Joe Graviss about the idea. After a couple of years, the House finally approved a bill inspired by Ethan’s suggestion. If passed by the Senate, the bill would designate cats and dogs adopted from Kentucky shelters as “official pets of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Senate, a “casualty of short sessions” caused by COVID-19, states Spectrum News1.
Now, Ethan hopes that Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-District 7, will introduce the bill again for the third time. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm.
To see more, Spectrum New 1 shared a great video.
Helping Shelter Animals Nationwide
While the Branscums await seeing the Kentucky Senate pass the bill, Ethan, now 9, has already set his sights on a nationwide campaign. On Facebook, Miche Branscum is asking for help getting the word out.
In a Change.org petition, Branscum asks for signatures to support making rescue pets the official symbolic pet of the United States. The petition is directed to Kentucky Representative Andy Barr, Senator Rand Paul, and Senator Mitch McConnell. So far, he has gathered almost 500 signatures.
“I am 9 years old. I think pets rescued from shelters or abusive homes should be named the official state pet of the United States,” write Branscum.
Going further, he states, “I think this would help bring attention to homeless animals and show that America is serious about ending this problem. I am one of your constituents. Please draft a bill to make this happen! This will really help the shelter animals get adopted,” he writes.
If you believe that shelter pets should be the symbolic pet of the US, then why not sign the petition here?
Ethan’s Rescue Pet Project on Facebook
Approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in US shelters each year. Of those animals, about 3.5 million may be adopted while 1.5 million face euthanasia. Certainly, designating shelter pets the official symbolic pets of the United States would go a long way to saving millions of wonderful animals’ lives.
“The main plan is to help get shelter pets adopted through highlighting them. Each week on each rescue report we highlight in it, a new animal from a shelter,” he said. “My end game goal is to make the national pet of the United States, the shelter pet.”
No doubt about it, Branscum’s efforts will pay off to help countless shelter animals. Perhaps, with everyone’s support, shelter pets will become the national pet of the US?