The Obamas served notice months ago about their intention to get a dog, and that left America with a great sense of anticipation—purebred or mutt, breeder or shelter, puppy or adult. Everybody agrees that Bo is an adorable dog, and also not a puppy mill dog. But many animal advocates continue to express great disappointment that the dog did not come from a shelter, squandering an opportunity by the First Family to set an example. Many of you have written to me with strong feelings about the issue, and many of you spoke about the tone of balance and celebration of the human-animal bond that The HSUS struck in its comments in reacting to the decision.
I have had many dogs in my lifetime. Most have been rescued. I believe that the sheltered animals should come first and be given a second chance at a loving home. How awesome would it be for a rescued dog in a small kennel at a shelter to suddenly find himself with all that room at the White House. Maybe Bo can go to a shelter and pick a mate! —Lora
I think Obama's dog choice is still good for organizations like the HSUS. If Obama's children tolerated the Kennedys' dogs well, I can see them making that choice as a healthy fit for their family. That is what dog responsibility is about. They also had the dog neutered and did not go to a puppy mill. This is their first pet and I'm sure they were nervous. Let's hope it's a great experience for them, they fall in love with their new family member and are inspired to speak out for the welfare of all animals. If his daughters handle this dog well, maybe they can adopt a second pet from a shelter in the future. I enjoy your blog and the ability to stand up for animals with grace and not just swing your fists. —SM
It is disappointing that they did not choose a rescue dog. However, the Obama family’s pick for “First Dog” has certainly raised more awareness and press about this subject. The Internet also is giving us the opportunity to create awareness and come together to help support and raise money for shelter dogs everywhere! —Anne-Lise Stannard
Bravo. I love what you said. I sent President Obama a letter expressing sadness for all the dogs in shelters that won't have the opportunity that Bo has. I asked that he promise to go to a shelter NEXT time! —Sandy Faut
Even though Bo is not a shelter dog, the fact is that President Obama mentioned shelters as his first choice for adopting a dog. Since Bo was a gift to the Obamas, I don't feel that this is a disappointment but rather an opportunity for shelter dogs to get some notice and hopefully homes. It should make everyone feel better to know that Oprah adopted her little Sadie from our shelter, PAWS in Chicago. —Bridget
I am severely disappointed and angered that Obama did not keep his word to adopt a shelter dog. I do not understand how people can choose to buy while wonderful, loving dogs are being put to death every day. All of my animals are rescues, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. It is far more important to me to save a life. I was counting on Obama to inspire others to adopt, and I feel he really let a lot of people down. —Diane C.
I have always been a big supporter of your organization. I am very disappointed with your stance on this matter. The Obamas claimed that "As for the rescue pledge, the Obamas came up with a solution intended to lend a serious symbolic note: They're going to make a donation to the D.C. Humane Society." This is a poor substitute; "throw the dog a bone" (so to speak) kind of attitude. I thought that the whole point of the Obamas rescuing a dog was not about the money (their donation), but about the example that they would provide to the American people (and the world). Animal advocacy groups, such as yours, have worked very hard at sending the "No More Homeless Pets" message out to the people. Having a White House dog adopted from a rescue facility would have been a huge boost for your cause. This great opportunity was, unfortunately, missed. By adopting a non-rescue dog, the message is loud and clear to everyone. —Carolyn L. Sheriff
I am very upset by the example that our President has set for our nation. He had a golden opportunity to show our nation and the world that a rescue/shelter dog is good enough for the White House. He got a dog from a breeder and I don't consider it a “second-chance” dog which seems to be how the HSUS is spinning it. I understand the position of the HSUS in trying to project the best light possible and be hopeful for the future but I feel extremely let down by our President. A donation is nice but really being the leader of one of the largest and most influential nations in the world, adopting a single dog from a rescue/shelter would've done more for animals across the nation than any amount of money. —Angelina Kelly
I am apparently the lone ranger of rescues and fosters. I have worked with and for dogs for 40 years. Doing perimeter protection at missile sites gives one a lot of time to think. Many times my life was in the paws of my German partners. Our relationship with our canine friends is unique; as a society we must start respecting that again. This current frenzy of "you must adopt" is unfair to people and especially to our animal friends in the shelter. This behavior has kept a good many people from even looking. It is as narrow minded and bigoted as those who would only have a purebred. Reverse discrimination is as ugly as the pure form. People get the dog that will work for them and they are more likely to keep it. Ram a shelter dog down everyone’s throat and you create ill will. Keep an open mind. —Ardena
Like many readers and animal lovers, I was very disappointed when the Obamas wound up with a dog from a breeder rather than from a shelter. I fear that we'll see a wave of Portuguese water dog purchases from reputable breeders and puppy mills alike, while millions of wonderful dogs continue to wait and die in our nation's rescue groups and shelters. The one bright spot in all of this for me is that Bo is, at least, neutered. I hope that pet owners follow suit in having their pets altered to reduce the number of homeless animals. —Melissa K.
I hope the president will let everyone know the downside of owning that breed. High energy, etc. I expected to see a rush on that breed and it didn't take long before the topic of conversation in my salon was getting a Portuguese water dog—"They are so cute." —Wendy Thomas