Earlier today, I held a tiny, new little life in my hands. And then I made an introduction. I introduced a 9-week-old Yorkshire terrier, named Sebastian, to freshman Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, a former combat marine and FBI agent, who was actively looking for a rescue dog.
“Right after I got elected, I decided I wanted a dog,” Grimm told me in front of several of his staffers, reporters, and my HSUS colleagues. “I knew I wanted a rescue dog, and a small one who could live out of my office.”
Courtesy Rep. Grimm's office
Rep. Grimm with me and Sebastian earlier today
Over the past several months, the HSUS has worked with Columbia Second Chance to care for puppy mill dogs rescued in Missouri and transport them to our placement partners. Columbia Second Chance had rescued Sebastian’s mother and his litter mates from a puppy mill in February–sadly, two other puppies died as a direct result of the lack of care in the puppy mill. Our staff knew Rep. Grimm was looking for a dog, and we worked with Columbia Second Chance to find the right match. After helping more than 120 other dogs from Missouri puppy mills at Columbia Second Chance last week, our staff brought Sebastian to D.C. to meet his new family on Capitol Hill.
For Rep. Grimm at least, it was love at first sight. There were smiles all around—beaming smiles—especially from the Congressman and his staff. Sebastian is going to use the lawmaker’s fifth floor Capitol Hill office as his playground during the day, and go home with Rep. Grimm when the workday ends—and be his companion whether Grimm’s in Washington or at his home on Staten Island. When the Congressman travels internationally, it appears a fight could break out among the staff to determine who gets to look after the tiny Yorkie. He’s definitely that popular.
The personal is the political in Washington, and we are grateful that Rep. Grimm introduced H.R. 198, legislation enabling shelter dogs to become part of a pilot program for military veteran therapy and rehabilitation. Mr. Grimm is also is co-sponsoring the PUPS Act (Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act) to crack down on puppy mills. That’s a bill HSUS is determined to pass in this Congress, as part of our broader effort to turn around the puppy mill problem in America. Now, Rep. Grimm has a special incentive and case example to help drive that policy reform forward.
This heart-warming union (watch the video below) coincides with an interesting back story in Missouri, where Sebastian was born. There, some state lawmakers are moving decidedly to repeal Prop B, and we are in a major battle to protect what the voters decided just a few months ago. This adorable puppy, who arrived at the rescue group riddled with parasites and lice and exposed to deadly parvovirus which claimed the life of another puppy, would most likely have been sold over the Internet or through a pet store to an unsuspecting buyer, who would never have seen the filthy conditions his mother and other breeding dogs were living in for years.
Instead, he’s got a great life ahead of him. And we expect he’ll be a great ambassador for puppy mill dogs and other pets in need of rescue.