8-year-old boy is on mission to make shelter animals Kentucky’s official state pet

Published 12:48 pm Friday, March 19, 2021

When Ethan Branscum heard in 2019 that shelter pets had been named the official state pet of Ohio, he had an idea.

Why not do the same in Kentucky?

The 8-year-old Frankfort resident is on a mission to make sure that happens.

“It’ll eventually get passed, hopefully soon,” Ethan said. “I don’t care if I have to wait until I’m 13. I want it to get passed.”

Last year Ethan contacted then-state Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles, who sponsored a bill that passed the House but died before it could be heard in the Senate.

Ethan took up the cause again this year, sending letters to legislators about the official state pet.

“We lost count at 30 letters,” Ethan’s mother, Miché Branscum, said.

One of the letters reached state Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, Ethan’s senator, on the last day bills could be filed, and she was able to file a bill at the last minute that would “name and designate as the official pets of Kentucky domestic cats and dogs that reside in or have been adopted from Kentucky animal shelters or rescue organizations.”

Then came nearly a week of ice and snow that threw a wrench into the legislature’s schedule.

“When we came back from the ice break it was all hands on deck,” Southworth said, “and there were priorities for what got heard.”

Southworth’s bill didn’t make it out of committee, but she did introduce a resolution that was passed.

“It essentially is asking Kentuckians to consider adopting pets from a shelter,” she said.

That’s what Ethan wants to see.

He has a Facebook page (facebook.com/Ethansrescuepetproject) and Instagram page (instagram.com/ethans_rescue_pet_project), and he’s starting a show, “The Rescue Report,” that will appear on his social media pages and feature news about animals and pets available for adoption.

The next episode will be out Saturday morning, and the pet being featured for adoption is Mabel, a small dog at the Franklin County Humane Society.
“I’m going to have a very, very big guest,” Ethan said. “I want it to be a surprise.”