This year, Georgia joined the growing list of states with an official State Dog, but their choice was not a particular breed, as most previous states have chosen. Instead, they chose ‘Adoptable Dogs’ as the official State Dog.
The bill was approved last March by a 30-14 vote in the state senate. The sponsors hope that it will encourage more people to adopt dogs from shelters. They also wanted to show appreciation to the many animal shelters around the state and their hard-working staffs.
The bill was not passed without controversy. Earlier in the legislative session, some lawmakers were promoting the English Bulldog, long a mascot of the University of Georgia’s sports teams, as the official state dog, but that effort failed to gain momentum.
Senator Bill Heath of Bremen called having a dog of an unknown breed as the official state canine a “disgrace.” Senator Ellis Black of Valdosta said, “You’re going to have people who are going to use this against the state of Georgia.”
The law defines an “adoptable dog” as any dog in the custody of an animal shelter, humane society, or public or private animal refuge that is available for adoption by the general public.
Part of the law also recognizes a study by the National Council on Pet Population. That study says most animals taken into shelters are euthanized and thousands of dogs and cats are currently available to be adopted in Georgia animal shelters. It also calls for pets to be spayed and neutered to help reduce the animals euthanized every year.
The new law says the State of Georgia will promote animal rescue, adoption, and being a responsible pet owner.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal in April, 2016. It may not make all the people of Georgia happy, but it could cause much joy in the hearts of some Georgia shelter dogs and their new families.