FRANKFORT, Ky. — One child from Frankfort is on a mission to make shelter pets the official state pet of Kentucky.

"I was hoping that by bringing attention to shelter pets, that we could try and get more adopted a lot quicker," said 8-year-old Ethan Branscum.

Ethan wants to make shelter animals the official state pet of Kentucky. (Spectrum News 1)

Ethan was inspired by a story he saw in the news.

"We saw a news article about Ohio naming rescue pets the official state pet," said Miche Branscum, Ethan's mother. "And he said, 'Mom, that's a good idea. Why don't we do that?' So, we walked through the steps of contacting a legislator."

Two years ago, Ethan contacted Rep. Joe Graviss, D-District 56, with the idea. Ethan’s plan came full circle when he learned that following a legislative committee hearing, a bill was approved by the House giving the honorary title “official pets of the Commonwealth of Kentucky” to any dogs and cats in or adopted from Kentucky animal shelters.

"I think that these animals deserve good homes, forever homes. I just think that these animals deserves forever homes," Ethan said. "They don't deserve to have to spend their entire life in the shelter."

Ethan at the Kentucky Capitol. (Miche Branscum)

Ethan's push has inspired the people at Frankfort's L.I.F.E. House for Animals. 

"I think it's great. Not only is he just stepping up and reaching out on his own, but he's also beginning to reach out to touch other youth and asking them to get on board and taking them along and helping them to show how they can make a difference," said Betty Martin, president of L.I.F.E. House.

Unfortunately, COVID-19's grasp on Kentucky delivered a setback to Ethan’s dream. The bill which originally passed the House overwhelmingly stalled the past two years in the Senate, a casualty of short sessions. Now, Ethan hopes that Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-District 7, will introduce the bill again this year.

In the meantime, Ethan is working on weekly internet "Rescue Reports" with his correspondent friends. 

"The main plan is to help get shelter pets adopted through highlighting them. Each week on each rescue report we highlight in it, a new animal from a shelter," he said. "My end game goal is to make the national pet of the United States, the shelter pet."