Typically I try to steer clear of talking politics here and on my lifestyle blog, but today I just really feel like I must “go there”.
I’m beyond bothered by the fact that I can’t confirm where the Obamas’ new dog, a Portuguese Water Dog named Sunny, came from. I’ve read article after article after article about her arrival at the White House, and I’ve learned that she was born in Michigan in 2012, but little else has been written about her life prior to Monday when she catapulted to fame as the First Family’s new pet.
Did the Obamas rescue Sunny from a shelter? The only mention of anything resembling a shelter in the articles I read is the fact that the Barack and Michelle Obama plan to make a donation to the Washington Humane Society in Sunny’s honor.
That leads me to believe that no, Sunny wasn’t rescued from a shelter.
My gut tells me that Sunny came from a breeder, and for the purpose of this blog post, that’s going to be my assumption. I mean, come on. Based on the information that’s been presented – or lack thereof – what else can I assume?
With that, I must say shame on you, Mr. President and First Lady, for getting a dog from a breeder. Haven’t you heard the horror stories about puppy mills and backyard breeders?
And even if Sunny came from the most reputable breeder in the land, don’t you know that there are homeless dogs in US shelters dying by the thousands every single day? That happens because people just like you choose to buy a pet, rather than save a homeless one.
I’m betting you could’ve found a Portuguese Water Dog at a shelter or through a rescue group. Heck, with just a quick Google search, I found a handful of PWDs on Petfinder (a couple located fairly close to you), and in rescues all over the country. Did you think to try that?
I read that one of your daughters has allergies, and that you chose the PWD because of its hypo-allergenic qualities. But are you aware there are numerous other hypo-allergenic breeds, many of which I know can be found in shelters and rescues all over the United States?
Mr. and Mrs. Obama, last week I networked nine dogs in the New York City shelter system, trying to find homes so that they wouldn’t be euthanized in the city shelters. Of those nine dogs, one was rescued, another is still waiting, and the remaining 7 are dead. And that’s just a drop in the bucket. There were literally dozens of dogs put to death in New York City alone last week, all because no one came for them.
When you buy from a breeder, you encourage that breeder to continue to bring puppies into a world that’s already over-populated by unwanted pets.
This year, 3 to 4 million animals will die in US shelters because there are more homeless pets than there are families who want them. I fight every day for those pets, along with many other wonderful Animal Rescue Advocates who work tirelessly for the voiceless, and it’s an understatement to say it hurts us – and kills shelter animals – when the First Family of the United States fails to set a responsible example.
Choices like yours kill shelter animals every day, and it’s a cycle that will continue until people begin to make responsible decisions. First, spay and neuter your pets to prevent unplanned, unwanted, and unnecessary litters.
Second, don’t shop at pet stores that sell puppies and kittens because when you do, you’re supporting the hideous puppy mill industry.
And third, when you’re ready to add a new pet to your family, consider opening your heart to a homeless animal whose very life depends on it. At least visit your local shelter and rescue groups to see if they have any dogs that meet your needs. If you do the legwork and fail to find the dog of your dreams in a shelter, then by all means, work with a reputable breeder. But you’ve got to at least try to help a shelter pet first.
By choosing to buy from a breeder, the White House has made my already heartbreaking job even more difficult, because now a country full of people think it’s okay, even admirable, to shop rather than adopt. But it’s not okay, Mr. and Mrs. Obama.