Delaware Representative Brian Shupe has introduced a bill that would make shelter dogs the official state dog.

The bill emphasizes that many dogs desperately need forever homes, and highlights some of the numerous benefits of adopting from a shelter. For example, the dogs are often already spayed or neutered, housebroken or house trained, making the transition from new pet to furry family member easier.

One of Shupe’s goals is to raise awareness for dog rescue and adoption. If the bill passes, shelter dogs will become the mascot of the First State for one year.

With the help of local animal rescue groups, Shupe hopes to persuade fellow members of the General Assembly to make the shelter dog’s title permanent.

Shupe’s family has a history of adopting rescue dogs, and he owns a grooming boutique and dog daycare with his wife, where the couple has connected with other rescue dog guardians.

Shupe’s proposal reflects a growing trend for shelter dog advocacy among legislators throughout the country. In recent years, several states have designated shelter dogs as their official state dog, including California and Colorado.

The legislation is supported by the Brandywine Valley SPCA and by several state representatives and senators.

In late February, Shupe expressed his support for animals to WRDE: “[Animals] are a part of our community, they are a part of our families and unfortunately, they don’t have a voice.”