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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama's Doggie Decision

Walking_sawyer The results are in—and the comments are, too. Author and anti-puppy mill advocate Jana Kohl announced at the Taking Action for Animals conference this weekend that the Obama family has decided to adopt a dog. It may or may not be because blog readers weighed in with their views, in response to an online poll posted on the Humane Society Legislative Fund website.

All in all, more than 16,000 of you voted on where the Obama family should get their dog after the election is over. Three-quarters of you (73%) said they should adopt a dog from an animal shelter, while 15% chose a small breeder, 11% recommended a breed rescue group, and fewer than 1 percent suggested a pet store or Internet seller. You can see the final survey results here.

I also received a great deal of feedback from blog readers on the poll. Many of you loved the idea of raising awareness about the plight of rescued dogs. Others pointed out that “hypoallergenic” breeds might be best for the Obama daughters since the girls reportedly have allergies. And some of you felt it was way too much poking one’s nose into somebody else’s business, to paraphrase my friend John Woestendiek of The Baltimore Sun.

The HSLF poll was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and it was a reaction to the American Kennel Club poll which, frankly, was barking up the wrong tree. I had confidence that when presented with numerous options, the readers of the blog would make the right recommendations, and I’ve reprinted a selection of your comments below, pro and con.

As an American, and a pet owner (or caretaker), I think the most American pet a politician—or ANYONE—can own is a pet from an animal shelter. People come to this country for a second chance, every day. Animals should be given that same second chance, too! Shelters—and also breed rescue groups—have plenty of great dogs and cats who need good homes. That should be everyone’s first choice when selecting a companion animal! —Linda Z.

As a supporter of the Humane Society Legislative Fund and other animal advocacy groups, I think this is a ridiculous question. The options shouldn’t include breeders or pet stores. More importantly if one of our presidential candidates is considering acquiring a dog, it might be more beneficial to educate them about these practices. There are so many wonderful dogs available for adoption through animal shelters and foster programs, that this should be the only choice…I don't see the value in a poll like this. —Kelly S.

I love your work. I support you. I think it’s everyone’s inalienable right to decide where to get his own dog. I think we’re getting on dangerous ground when the masses try to control everything that goes on. Maybe they have a friend who is expecting puppies. I would be livid if anyone tried to tell me where to get my dog. —Karen (Judy) S.

I voted in the poll from the email I received from your list, because I think the issue is very important and I’m glad you’re seeking feedback to help bring the puppy mill concern to the public. But I wish it had been like the customizable form letters that your emails about animal issues usually take, because I was troubled by a couple of things: One is that you can only vote for one choice, while more than one option were good ones. Also, I would have liked to have been able to customize my communication explaining that I realize that the choice of a pet is a very personal decision and that although I normally believe in avoiding telling people in the public eye what they should do in their private lives and that I respect their need to choose a pet that is right for their children, it would be a better choice for their family as well as the important matter of bringing the concerns in the blog to the public, to get a pet that is more likely to be healthy and socialized than one from a pet store that may be getting their dogs from puppy mills. But thank you for helping bring this extremely important information to the public this way. —Loren R.

As long as Mr. Obama acquires his pet from a reputable source, it is none of your business. The decision should be a family decision, not a political one. When I state reputable breeder I am not advocating puppy mills. I investigated my breeder and visited her home. —Paula W.

I just participated in your Obama poll to tell them where they should get a dog. I voted for “breed rescue group” instead of animal shelter. I’d just like to point out, so that the Obamas are not too harshly criticized, that their daughters are both allergic to dogs (I heard Michelle Obama say this in an interview). So that is the reason why they are considering more hypoallergenic breeds like poodle, wheaten terrier, etc. Normally I would have voted that they rescue from a shelter, but in their special case a breed-specific rescue might be the only way they can find a purebred dog that meets their requirements. You might want to point this out to your members so that no undue scrutiny is placed on the Obamas. The breeds aren’t always easy to come by in a rescue environment. Please keep up all the great work that you do!! —Melanie M.

I sent this to friends and just folks I know, what a great little project this is. If the president obtains a pet from a shelter many more will. Thanks. —Talya R.

I sent an email to the AKC—I mentioned the millions of dogs in shelters and I asked them to use mixed breed or shelter dog as one of their choices. —Tracy

I volunteer at an animal shelter and it is such a great feeling helping these beautiful, loving dogs. It’s such a shame and so mind-boggling that there are so many people out there who can just give away these beautiful dogs and for such selfish reasons as I have been told. If Obama were to adopt a dog from a shelter, that could send a positive message to the public, and if he doesn’t, that too will send a negative message for the shelters out there. —Dale

I definitely think they should get a dog at the animal shelter. These innocent animals need a home. Anyone can buy from a breeder; the people who are really making a difference in the world are the ones who rescue and adopt from shelters. We have always adopted from shelters and have never regretted it. The feeling you have when you give a good forever home to a dog from a shelter is immeasurable! Your life and the dog’s life will be forever changed in a good way! And, when you adopt a dog, you are not only saving that dog’s life but making room for another dog to take his place, and possibly be adopted. There is nothing like an animal shelter dog. They rule! —Linda

It doesn’t matter whether the Obamas’ new pet comes from a shelter or humane society, or from a rescue group—either an all-breed rescue, or breed-specific rescue. As a dedicated rescuer, I don’t even have a problem with reputable, responsible breeders—it’s not their dogs that end up in my rescue program. But NOBODY, presidential candidate or regular Joe, should EVER purchase a dog or cat from a pet store or Internet seller! Doing so merely perpetuates unbelievable animal abuse. —Nancy

I have two standard poodles, one purchased four years ago from a questionable breeder (not a puppy mill but not respected by other area breeders) and one acquired last year from a very reputable and concerned breeder (I have learned so much). We love both but have since learned more about breed rescue and shelters. Since the Obamas are in a position of leadership (win or lose) it would set a wonderful example if they would choose to rescue their new “addition” from a breed rescue or animal shelter. I am sure there are many other dog lovers who have learned about breed rescue and the wonderful dogs at the local shelter too late. I would love the Obamas to support either. Thank you for the opportunity to speak out!!!! —Marianne R.

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