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The Obama dogma
By Cindy Beckman

Bo and President ObamaIt is rare that a campaign promise is actually carried out within the first 100 days, but the addition of a “first dog” to the White House was accomplished to the delight of the president’s two daughters – and, by all appearances, the president himself. “Bo,” a six-month-old Portuguese water dog, was presented to the Obamas in April by Senator Ted Kennedy, who is also the owner of several PWDs from Bo’s breeder.

Bo was returned to his breeder from his first home because he was a poor fit for the family (presumably due to his high energy level). In the parlance of the dog world, he was in need of being “rehomed.” The timing was perfect for Bo to become the Obamas’ new companion.

But because the president and first lady had told reporters that they had hopes of adopting a dog from the Washington Humane Society, many animal rights groups are up in arms over the fact that Bo did not come from a shelter.

“Clearly our best hope was that [the president] would go to a shelter or a breed-rescue group,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, in the Chicago Tribune. “He didn’t do that, but he also didn’t go to a pet store or puppy mill either. It’s a gray area.”
There is no gray area. There is an unfortunate spin put on pet rescue by animal rights groups that the only “good” dog is a shelter dog. However, within breed communities, the act of rehoming dogs is the most common form of rescue activity. And breed rescue groups generally require that breeders first try to find homes for any dogs they have produced before a rescue committee will take a dog for placement.

In this economy, a greater number of dogs are being relinquished to shelters because families can no longer afford to keep them or are losing their pet-friendly housing options. These dogs are rehomes as well – but responsible breeders and breed-rescue groups work to keep their dogs out of the shelter system, reducing the load on the already overburdened facilities.

The first lady has said that the Obamas will make a donation to a local shelter to underscore their original intentions. Hopefully, the pundits will see the merits in this story: Bo is a dog who needed a second chance and found his forever home with a very special family, one who already knew the value of a rehomed pet before there was time to put any spin on it.

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