BY JORDANNA GARLAND
Managing Arts and Culture Editor
Thirteen states, including Delaware, have official state dogs. As of 2016, the “Golden Retriever” was Delaware’s designated dog, but a bill signed by Governor John Carney on May 30 made “The Rescue Dog” Delaware’s new official dog.
The signing of Senate Bill 37 was held at Wilmington’s Humane Animal Partners, an adoption and volunteer center. In attendance were government officials, including Senator Jack Walsh, State Rep. Bryan Shupe and State Rep. Kimberly Williams. Additionally, staff from Humane Animals Partners, Faithful Friends Animal Society, First State Animal Center & SPCA and Brandywine Valley SPCA were also in attendance.
According to Humane Animal Partners, Senator Walsh first proposed the bill to the Senate floor in early 2023 and it passed with unanimous support.
“Senate Bill 37 reaffirms the General Assembly’s support for animal welfare and our commitment to ensuring that every rescued pet will be cared for, loved, and protected against abuse,” Senator Walsh told WRDE earlier this summer.
Alexa Daley, a rising sophomore, shared that she thinks this new legislation is “a good thing overall.” She expressed that although her family’s dog was bought at a pet shop when she was younger, she has plans on adopting a dog of her own once she decides to get her own place.
Delaware’s commitment to protecting animal abuse was a topic of legislation with Delaware’s Senate Concurrent Resolution 70. Passed in 2016, the bill put into law that October would become the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Association’s “Adopt a Dog Month,” encouraging the adoption of shelter and rescue dogs.
Delaware is not the first state to declare rescue dogs as their official state canine. Since 2013, Colorado has declared every dog and cat adopted from animal shelters and rescues be named the state’s official state pet. Similarly, in 2014, Tennessee allowed dogs and cats adopted from Tennessee animal shelters and rescues to be their official state pet.
With a bill introduced by State Rep. Shupe, Delaware named “The Rescue Dog” as their official state dog once before in 2019, but the legislation was only in effect for a year. As opposed to this most recent legislation, the decision to make the bill permanent did not win the approval of the Delaware House of Representatives.
“I think it will hopefully influence more people to adopt rather than shop which will not only help the dogs in the shelters, but it will also stop funding the puppy mills that abuse their dogs,” Daley said.