I’ve been going back and forth as to whether to write about the Obama Family’s new dog, Bo. I’m sure that some people will read this and think, “what’s the big deal?” To me, this speaks to the bigger message that this blog represents. So, here’s my take on it.
When I heard the news that they had gone through a kennel instead of adopting/rescuing like they originally wanted to, I was more than disappointed. When Barack Obama told the world that the girls would get a puppy, the family immediately came out to the media, several times, and said that they were looking to rescue and that they needed a breed that was hypoallergenic. So many in the dog rescue and adopting world were so excited to see the First Family demonstrate a responsible way of getting a dog.
Because of this, I was shocked when the recent news came out of how they actually got their new puppy. They went through a kennel in Texas that they were referred to by the Kennedys. The puppy that they got was originally sold to a family and then was returned. The breeder said that the puppy was being “rehomed” to the Obamas. (Note the quote below from their breeder, Martha Stern, who doesn’t consider Bo to be a rescue). Then, for damage control, the Obamas announced that they would be making a donation to the Humane Society, although they did not say how much or which Humane Society (a local humane society, the national organization, etc).
This could have been such a teachable moment for the American public. To show that you can and should rescue. To show that you can even find purebred puppies through rescue if that’s what you want. For some reason, going through a breeder has been the “sexy” thing to do in the past. It’s time to turn that around. There are unbelievable numbers of dogs and cats that are homeless and if more people would rescue, breeders and puppymills would produce less because the demand would be less. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have homeless pets in this country? It’s a lofty goal, but we can do much better than we are doing now.
Photo credit: smalldogs
Below are a few quotes of what people in the dog world are saying about the new First Dog:
“I think all of us who work trying to place homeless animals had hoped that they would choose a shelter dog. His choosing to go to a breeder is a disappointment. Choosing a shelter dog, that would have been a really powerful message to the American people.” — Steve Gruber, spokesman for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals in New York City.
“He’s [Bo] in a gray area. But I will say that many animal advocates are disappointed that he (Obama) didn’t go to a shelter or breed rescue group, partly because he set that expectation and because so many activists are focused on trying to reduce the number of animals euthanized at shelters, and there’s no better person to make the case to the American public that you can get a great dog from a shelter than the president.” — Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States
“I don’t consider Bo to be a rescued dog.” — Martha Stern, the breeder who supplied the Obama family with their new pup.
“When he was resoundingly elected to office we were promised change. But, it seems, true to type the new American president is a politician at heart so should we really have expected anything different?” — Dog Magazine’s Ryan O’Meara.
“Yet despite all their stated good intentions, in the end the Obamas decided to allow their choice of dog to be guided, which is to say commandeered, by the Kennedys, and the Kennedy family’s breed preference for the rarefied Portuguese Water Dog. Moreover, instead of even trying to find a Portie through a breed rescue, they chose to patronize the Kennedys’ own breeder (I know the official version of the story is that the new puppy is a “gift” from Ted Kennedy, but does anyone believe that gift wasn’t green-lighted by the Obamas?).” — Kate Woodviolet, LA Examiner
Hat Tip to Ecorazzi for collecting the above quotes.
Bottom line is this: Each of us has the opportunity to be a role model for those around us on how to get a puppy/dog responsibly…whether you’re the President of the United States, or a regular gal like me. Please learn from this story and let’s start fighting for homeless pets.