Pet Night on Capitol Hill Wednesday was a treat for the guests attending, and their owners probably enjoyed the candy station meant for them, too.
The banquet room in Rayburn House Office Building was packed with guest mingling with House members and their staffers, as well as about 20 dogs, to highlight the roles pets play in human health and quality of life. The room was lined with gifts and information for dogs and cats, and several House aides posed with their dogs by a photo station.
Rep. Tim Ryan, R-Ohio, spoke at the event to tout a bill he had introduced that would install technology into cars that would prevent heatstroke deaths in pets and in children. His bill, the HOT CARS Act, would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a final rule within two years for a reminder system to alert the driver if a child is left unattended in a vehicle.
"We can do this, we have the technology to do this, let's move it through the political system," he said.
The Senate Commerce Committee recently included the language in a bill called the AV START Act, which creates rules for driverless cars.
Ryan spoke about his family and his two rescue dogs, calling them "part of our family and instrumental to well-being."
He joked that with the dogs and his children, he was ranked low in his household.
"I go up to the king-sized bed for me and my wife and there is one kid, maybe two, and always two dogs," he said to laughs from the audience. "So I end up in Bella's room at the end of the hallway."
Guests from the industry, veterinarian community, animal welfare advocates and research organizations gathered with House members and their aides. Rep. Lou Barletta and his dog, Reilly, were in attendance, and among the other pets was a poodle named Sherlock.
After circling the room and becoming apparently exhausted, several therapy dogs laid on their sides in corners of the room with their eyes closed, allowing guests to come to them for a cuddle. One dog included Higgins, a bulldog with a vest on that read, "Ask to pet me; I'm friendly."
The winner of the 2017 Cutest Dog on the Hill contest went to Eleanor, or Ellie, a dog owned by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.