Oklahoma state pet is now “rescue animals,” Governor Stitt declares

During a flurry of bill-signings by Governor Kevin Stitt that have happened over the past week, the new Oklahoma state pet was officially established.

The new Oklahoma state pet is now the rather generic “rescue animals.”

This news was earlier reported by Tulsa TV station KJRH – 2 Works for You.

Because no specific animal was named in the bill, officially known as House Bill 1816 or more informally as Cali’s Law, any shelter animal that has been rescued would qualify, whether that be a dog or cat, or something a bit more exotic like birds, horses, or ferrets.

Rescue animals are now the official Oklahoma state pet.

According to bill author, State Representative Mark McBride from Moore, it could even technically apply to really exotic rescue animals like elephants or camels, though those seem unlikely (but an occasional camel isn’t unheard of in the Sooner State).

McBride was inspired by his Catahoula mix Cali, who came from the Moore Animal Shelter. Moore is a suburb of Oklahoma City, and the seventh-largest city in the state, with around 60,000 residents. All three high schools in the city use feline mascots, which are pawsibly better than canine mascots from an intimidation pawspective, as Moore is the Lions, Westmoore the Jaguars and Southmoore the SaberCats.

“I’d never let a dog in my house before I got Cali,” McBride told KJRH. “Now, my wife and I have a second rescue dog, and we just love them both. We’re hoping others will join us in adopting other rescue animals, which in turn will help our municipalities reduce the cost of running their shelters or building bigger ones for lost or abandoned pets. We’re counting on this legislation helping us spread the word.”

Another proponent Cali’s Law was State Senator Darrell Weaver from Moore; the bill was originally passed in the State House last year, but did not advance further through the lawmaking process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  .

“The aim of this new law is to bring attention to this need and encourage more Oklahomans to open their hearts and their homes to rescue animals,” Weaver told KJRH.

While there does not appear to be a full listing of state pets anywhere, Wikipedia reveals that among other state mammals, Delaware and Mississippi honor the gray and red fox, respectively, and South Dakota the coyote (which makes sense, as the University of South Dakota uses it as a mascot for their sports teams). Several other states also honor a variety of house cats and wild cats.

Also, 13 states have official state dogs, with seven others in the process of considering naming one. Georgia passed a law in 2016 that made the rather generic “adoptable dog” the official state dog. The official Ohio state pet is the rather generic “shelter pet” as well.

New Jersey passed a law last year making the official state dog a Seeing Eye Dog.