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I am furious that Obama got a breeder dog. Sure, Bo’s adorable and he’ll probably lead a fantastic life filled with love from many sources. I expect that Bo will have a good life. But I’m still livid.
Obama’s promise to adopt a shelter dog brought hope to the homeless and now he’s taken that away. Not only has he taken away that hope, he’s made the problem worse.
Last year he might have been able to say that the dog they wanted was difficult to find in a shelter. (Difficult, but not impossible.) By the next election, that statement won’t be true anymore. There will be a surge of Portuguese Water Dogs in shelters. These are the dogs who will be bred in puppy mills, bought at pet stores, and abandoned at shelters when things just don’t work out as planned. These are the dogs who will be killed by caring shelter workers overwhelmed by the problem. These are the dogs who aren’t as lucky as Bo. These are the dogs that the Obamas’ financial donation will not save. These are the dogs who need more than money, they need people to keep their promises. These are the dogs deemed disposable by our society.
I’m not alone in my disappointment of the Obamas:
“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,” said Steve Gruber, spokesman for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals in New York City.
“The US president has kept his pledge to his family to get them a dog once installed in the White House but he has reneged on his promise to adopt a shelter dog AND his claim that he would be taking on a ‘mutt’ (crossbreed). Instead, the Obama’s have taken a ‘gift’ dog which is a pedigree Portuguese Water Dog. So, despite saying he’d adopt a crossbreed he’s actually been given a pedigree from a breeder. A lie? A broken promise? Saying one thing and doing another? All in a day’s work for the average politician it would appear,” wrote Ryan O’Meara at Dog Magazine.
“many animal advocates are disappointed that he 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,” said Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS.
Why am I so mad? It’s just one dog. It’s just one promise.
I’m mad because adopting a shelter dog requires absolutely no heroism. Adopting a shelter dog requires no special effort. Adopting a shelter dog required nothing more than keeping a simple promise. A simple promise. Obama couldn’t keep that simple promise.
Just go to the pound and pick one out. It’s really very easy.
Here’s a picture of an actual shelter dog (a young lab-poodle mix in a city pound) I would have chosen for the Obamas if I had a chance:
Not only did the Obama family NOT adopt a rescue dog, they accepted a “gift” dog. The story goes that Ted Kennedy gifted Bo to the Obamas. Originally, Bo was bred and sold to someone in Washington. But Bo was returned, he was an unwanted piece of merchandise. Then he was re-gifted to the Obamas, just like an ugly vase from aunt Mildred gets re-gifted at an office holiday party.
Because Bo is now with his second “owners,” the story of Bo is spun to make him seem like a rescue. Wayne Pacelle called Bo a “quasi-rescue dog,” but Martha Stern, the breeder who “produced” Bo, said she doesn’t consider Bo to be a rescued dog.
What’s worse is that they think “he was a gift” excuses the fact that Bo isn’t from a shelter. Nope, the “he was a gift” line makes it worse, actually. Because now, not only is Bo no longer a symbol of hope for all shelter dogs (and shelter employees and volunteers), and not only is Bo now a symbol for breeders (and by extension puppy mills), now Bo is also a symbol that animals are merely things to be bought, sold, given, and received. Bo is a product in the eyes of the Obamas and many Americans. But Bo is not a product, he’s a puppy, and puppies aren’t products!
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