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First Dog Bo: Obama family picks Portuguese water dog for daughters

By Gary Bogue
Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:48 am in dogs, First Dog, Obama, Pets, Presidential Pets.

The new First Dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog. (AP Photo/the White House, Pete Souza)
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I’d like to congratulate the Obamas on bringing home a new dog, Bo, into their family, and especially to thank them for taking in a “second-chance dog.” Bo is a Portuguese water dog who was apparently returned by the family that originally purchased him.

The puppy didn’t fit in with the first family that adopted it. It is a gift to the Obamas (that other first family) from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who tracked down the puppy. He owns several Portuguese water dogs himself.

First Dog meets First Family. (AP Photo/the White House, Pete Souza)
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“Americans can follow this positive example by visiting their local animal shelter or breed rescue group, and giving another dog or cat a second chance at a loving home,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “And President Obama can do even more for animal protection through the policies of federal agencies that deal with the welfare of millions of pets, helping us enforce existing animal welfare laws and cracking down on the national shame of rampant puppy mills in America.”

Families, like the Obamas, who are interested in a particular breed of animal or have special circumstances such as allergies in their household, can turn to their local animal shelter or breed rescue group. Portuguese water dogs are good pets for children who have allergies, as Malia Obama does.

About one-quarter of all dogs in shelters are purebreds, many surrendered by their owners like the new First Dog, Bo.

Three million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are put down every year in shelters across America. These animals are loving, happy and loyal dogs and cats who ended up in shelters through no fault of their own.

The unconditional love of a dog can be particularly welcome for a First Family as they face life in the public eye and the stresses of the presidential job. Just about every president has had a pet of some kind, and since the Civil War especially, pets have been a fixture at the White House.

Most presidents have been dog owners, and more than fifty dogs have occupied its hallowed hallways. Most of the early cats there were “barn hands,” with Abraham Lincoln the first president to bring one indoors.

The HSUS has joined with pet rescue foundation Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council for a national public service campaign to encourage shelter pet adoption. The “Shelter Pet Project” campaign will launch nationwide this summer.

The HSUS also has a Puppy Buyers Guide with tips on how to find a reputable dog breeder and avoid puppy mills, available on-line at http://www.humanesociety.org/puppy.

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