Has the man never heard of Pound Puppies ™?

November 7th, 2008 11:59 pm by Kelly Garbato

Updated to add:

Here’s the exact quote; early accounts of the press conference on the internets only had partial transcripts:

With respect to the dog. This is a major issue. I think it’s generated more interest on our web site than just about anything. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic, on the other hand our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.

Also irksome is the reporter’s phrasing of the question: “everyone wants to know what kind of dog are you going to buy for the girls?” Because purchasing a sentient being as if it’s a microwave or couch is the only way to bring an animal into your home, dontchaknow?

Idiot man-child Chris Matthews echoed this sentiment even after playing Obama’s response just now. Dolt.

Finally, “hypoallergenic” as it relates to dogs should really be in scare quotes; as both Elaine and the Wiki entry I link to below note, there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. However, there are a number of steps that those living with animals and allergies can take to minimize the misery. Shane has asthma, and we manage with five dogs and a cat. (Likewise, my mother has asthma, and has lived with dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and turtles…though not all at the same time!)

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During President-elect Obama’s first press conference this afternoon, he was asked about that puppy he promised daughters Malia and Sasha:

“With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. Number 2. is that we would prefer a shelter dog, but as you know a lot of them are mutts, like me, so we’ll have to balance those issues.”

Here, Obama buys into the myth that young and/or purebred dogs are not available for adoption; that they can only be purchased from breeders. A quick perusal through animal adoption sites such as Petfinder puts this misconception to bed, as Elaine points out.

In addition to Obama’s prejudices regarding shelter dogs (i.e., all are old mutts), I’m also disturbed by his apparent willingness to flipflop on this issue if need be, despite Mrs. Obama’s promise that the family will adopt, rather than purchase a dog. (No doubt due to several high-profile campaigns encouraging them to do just this, including a letter from PETA and a petition drive from Best Friends.) Doubly so when Obama has a history of changing course when it’s politically expedient. If he can’t keep such an “inconsequential,” simple promise such as this, I don’t have much faith that he’ll, say, appoint justices who respect my bodily autonomy.

While the matter of adopting vs. purchasing the family “pet” may seem trivial, the epidemic of companion animal overpopulation and the resulting murder of 3 to 4 million cats and dogs annually is anything but. The Obamas are in the unique position to set an excellent, progressive example; and yet, President-elect Obama has already begun backtracking, hemming and hawing – at such an early date, and seemingly in response to misinformation regarding animal adoption.

I hope Best Friends continues hounding (pun intended) him on the issue.

On a personal note, I discovered and adopted every one of my five dogs through Petfinder; Ralphie is a purebred dachshund, while Peedee and Rennie are “purebred” rat terriers/toy fox terriers (scare quotes because the breed is really one step removed from “mutt” anyhow, which is a positive for me – I lurve mutts!), and Kaylee and Jayne are some type of rat terrier/Jack Russell terrier mix. Some were young (Peedee was seven months old, while Rennie was roughly a year old); others, older (Kaylee was estimated to be between six and eight years of age at the time we adopted her). There’s a huge variety out there, and as the friggin’ President of the USA, I think Obama can manage to find and adopt a suitable, hypoallergenic dog from a shelter or rescue group.

Here, I’ll even volunteer to aid them in their search! (If only because I love pouring over the animal listings on Petfinder.)

Let’s start with this list of hypoallergenic dog breeds from Wiki: Airedale Terrier, Barbet (dog), Basenji, Bedlington Terrier, Bergamasco, Bichon Frisé, Bolognese, Border Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Cairn Terrier, Chinese Crested, Coton de Tulear, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Fox Terrier (Wire), Greyhound, Havanese, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Lagotto Romagnolo, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Poodles of all sizes and Poodle hybrids, Portuguese Water Dog, Puli, Samoyed, Schnauzers of all sizes, Scottish Terrier, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier.

Using this list as a guide, I searched for several breeds on Petfinder and came up with a number of options for the Obamas to consider. Here are three young pups, located along the East Coast, that meet their criteria:

1. KoKo, a baby greyhound available through Greyhound Angels Adoption in Pennsauken, NJ: “Three month old brindle female. She is being sent into adoption because she will be too small to race. Arriving from Kansas on November 23, 2008.”

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2. Bruiser, a one-year-old Maltese/Bichon Frise mix available for adoption through Metropolitan Maltese Rescue in New York, NY: “Meet Bruiser. He is an approx 12 month old male Maltese/Bichon Mix puppy and weighs 14 pounds. Bruiser is a VERY active puppy who loves to play fetch! He has not met a person he does not like and gets along with other small dogs. Bruiser is missing his hind foot which most likely happened at birth but you would NEVER know it as he runs faster than most dogs with 4 paws, takes walks and of course loves to play fetch. Everyone he meets does not even notice he is missing his foot and of course neither does Bruiser!!”

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3. Saylor, an 11-week-old poodle pup available for adoption through A Forever-Home Rescue Foundation in Chantilly, VA: “Sydney’s pups came to us with their mom from a puppy mill in West Virginia. There are four girls and one boy. Saylor, pictured here, is still available.”

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Clearly, if you have very specific criteria when adopting a dog, it may take a little longer (and you may have to travel a bit further) to find the exact dog that’s right for you and your family. But the “perfect” dog is out there – and since it’s We Humans who have created the “pet” overpopulation problem, it is Our Responsibility to help alleviate it, rather than contributing further by “breeding and buying while shelter dogs are dying.”

Watching the pundits guffaw over the “puppy question” during their coverage of the press conference, I can only hope that the Obamas take this issue seriously. For the 6 to 8 million companion animals abandoned by their “owners” every year, it’s a dead serious matter.

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