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With no doggone votes to spare, the Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to SB53 to declare the golden retriever as the official "state domestic animal."
Senators endorsed the proposal 15-9 in a preliminary vote, with five members absent. That is the minimum number of votes needed. A final vote is expected later this week.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, explained that a fourth grade class at South Jordan's Daybreak Elementary came up with the idea, after seeing that a fourth grade class from Monroe managed to change the state tree last year.
He said the children proposed the golden retriever because it is one of the most popular dogs adopted from animal shelters in Utah, and because it is a breed often used for therapy animals.
"It will embody all the wonderful animals we love," said Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, who once rescued golden retrievers with her late husband, former Sen. Ed Mayne.
But several senators opposed the bill, saying they preferred other breeds.
"There's nothing better for me than a cocker spaniel, so I vote no," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, said, "We breed German Shepherds" and voted no.
Four states have state dogs: the Alaskan Malamute in Alaska; the Catahoula leopard dog in Louisiana; the Chesapeake Bay retriever in Maryland; and the American water spaniel in Wisconsin. Two states also have a state cat: the Maine coon cat in Maine, and the calico cat in Maryland.