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Is Bo an Obamanation?

April 14, 2009 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
Anyone involved in animal rescue was holding their breath waiting to see what decision Obama and his family made about choosing a family pet.

The president stated during the campaign that he if he won, he promised the girls they could get a dog. So the Obama Dog-drama began.

Barack and Michelle made the statement that they’d like to look to adopt from a shelter or rescue but that they also had to contend with one daughter’s allergies.

First, no breed is truly hypoallergenic.  I don’t care who tries to tell you this. Some breeds, like Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs (PWD) have ‘hair’ rather than fur. Which is nice because they shed a lot less and some people with allergies can have a more positive reaction to the difference in coat. However people can also be allergic to a pet’s dander or even a pet’s saliva.  Again, there is no truly hypoallergenic breed.

In an attempt to quell the concerns of animal rescue groups, spokespersons, including those from the Portuguese Water Dog Club (PWD) of America, stated that it’s difficult to find a PWD in a shelter or rescue.

It is true that you are less likely to know the history of your pet if adopted through a shelter or rescue. However it is also true that 1 in 4 dogs/cats in shelters are pure breed. On average, purebred dogs account for about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter's dog population, according to the HSUS.

With one quick look on I found 20 PWD listed for adoption. One young female PWD is currently residing at the Washington, D.C. Humane Society. With another quick click around the web I found a listing of several PWD rescue groups who specialize in finding homes for displaced PWD.

I adopt senior Golden Retrievers from Golden Retriever Rescues. That’s my choice. Everyone has a choice and should be respected for it. What the Obama administration should not do is try to ‘explain away’ their choices. They are only stirring more controversy among the various levels of rescue groups and people out there who strongly believe Obama should have made a choice better suited to their particular belief or cause.

I will personally always wonder if Ted Kennedy didn’t somehow help to ‘make’ this particular dog ‘conveniently available’ since it came from the same breeder from which he got his PWDs; however, if the dog was with an owner who had decided they no longer wanted the dog, then to me this was a dog who was in need of a new home. We call these babies, Second Chance dogs. If the Obamas would not have taken the dog, I am going to assume this dog would have ended back up at the kennel (which it did) and would again be looking for a forever home.

I have adopted a lot of Second Chance Senior Goldens. Some whose owners’ excuses all began to blend together as to why they could no longer care for this 8 or 10 year old bundle of golden love that they had raised from a pup.

If Bo, the Obama’s new family member, was going to end up looking for a second chance at adoption, then by my book the Obama’s have taken in a Second Chance dog.

Sadly though, Bo did come from a breeder. Reputable or not, breeders are not much of a step above puppy mills. Both continue to pump out even more dogs and cats into a society that can’t handle the number of homeless dogs and cats we currently have. 

Breeders speak out of both sides of their mouth. They may say they love their pets; but, breeding is a business. Period. It is good money. If they truly loved and cared about the welfare of animals they would not want to bring even more dogs and cats into a world that cannot properly care for the ones we have now.

It is estimated that between 3 and 7 million adoptable dogs & cats are put to sleep each year due to overpopulation. 25% of pet dogs put to sleep in animal shelters are purebred.

Bo is our new first dog. We welcome the love and attention he will provide and share with the first kids.

Let’s just pray that breeders do not look upon this as an opportunity to capitalize on the PWD breed and end up creating a generation of unwanted pets as the fad fades.

Let’s also pray that star-struck people will not decide they ‘need’ to have a PWD in order to ‘be just like the president’.  PWDs are a wonderful breed. Dogs are wonderful.  However, nothing is wonderful in excess. Nothing good can ever come from ‘too much of a good thing’.

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