Cause: Preventing the trade of dog and cat meat for human consumption.
Celeb: Shannen Doherty, the actress most famous for playing Brenda Walsh on the teen drama “90210.” Doherty, sporting a close-cropped ’do after finishing chemo for breast cancer, visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to advocate for pets (art imitating life, maybe — anyone remember the 90210 plot point where Brenda fell in with a bunch of animal-rights activists?).
Scene: A briefing in your typical high-ceilinged, swag-curtained hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, with Doherty seated at a dais alongside Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), who is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would amend the Animal Welfare Act to ban the transport of cats and dogs meant for the pet-flesh market.
And talk about cats and dogs — bill co-sponsor Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) dropped by the hearing to note that the issue might just be one of the few that can bring typically warring Republicans and Democrats together. The Florida Republican noted that, although he and Hastings don’t exactly see eye to eye on many issues, preventing the consumption of cats and dogs is “one of the things we do agree on.”
Sound bite: Doherty, who reps the L.A.-based Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, revealed that she’s not your typical celeb advocate parachuting in from Hollywood — she’s got bona fide connections. Her brother, Sean Doherty, was a lobbyist who knew House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), she said, and he helped set up a meeting for her later in the day with the top GOP leader — which is so very Washington.
“Having cancer brings things into a different kind of focus,” she said, crediting her dog with helping her get through surgery and treatment after her diagnosis in 2015. “We as Americans have trained dogs to do amazing things — they take bullets for our officers and sniff bombs,” she continued. “They are part of us and for us to not stand up and protect animals … we have to protect our own.”