The Georgia House of Representatives has passed a bill designating "the adoptable dog" as the state's dog.
That means any dog from an animal shelter or rescue could join the brown thrasher, square dancing and quartz as a symbol of the state of Georgia.
The bill, introduced in 2015 by Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Atlanta, notes that "thousands of dogs and cats are currently available for adoption in Georgia animal shelters, humane societies and private rescue groups" and that "the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy estimates that a majority of animals taken into shelters are euthanized."
"Georgia was founded as a colony to give people a second chance at life," Wilkinson said. "That's exactly what we're trying to do with these adoptable animals. Give them a second chance."
He said the bill's purpose is to "see if we can't save more animals ... and see if we can't also enrich the lives of Georgians because animals can have such a positive, loving influence on families."
In a written statement, Atlanta Humane Society Vice President of Operations Tara High said:
“The bill gives shelter animals the time and attention they so deserve. We are committed to finding homes for all adoptable animals. We strive to be a part of the solution to ending pet homelessness and that is exactly what this bill aims to do. [Rep.] Wilkinson is giving potential adopters yet another reason to give shelter and rescue animals a chance. That is absolutely legislation we stand behind.”
The state of Georgia currently has no representative canine. A 1991 bill to give the honor to the Golden Retriever failed in the Senate, 37-10.
In nominating a category of canine, rather than a specific breed, the bill declares: "The State of Georgia wishes to promote responsible stewardship of dogs and cats; and the State of Georgia wishes to promote animal rescue and adoption."
If the bill passes the Senate, "the adoptable dog" will join Virginia's "American Foxhound" and Massachusetts' "Boston Terrier" among the nation's state dogs.