by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals.

Below are a smattering of comments I’ve found on the web recently from animal rescuers, activists, and bloggers regarding the Obama family’s new dog, Bo. You can join others discussing the topic on this thread here.

“I think all of us who work trying to place homeless animals had hoped that they would choose a shelter dog. His choosing to go to a breeder is a disappointment. Choosing a shelter dog, that would have been a really powerful message to the American people.”Steve Gruber, spokesman for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals in New York City.

“He’s [Bo] in a gray area. But I will say that many animal advocates are disappointed that he (Obama) didn’t go to a shelter or breed rescue group, partly because he set that expectation and because so many activists are focused on trying to reduce the number of animals euthanized at shelters, and there’s no better person to make the case to the American public that you can get a great dog from a shelter than the president.”Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States

“I don’t consider Bo to be a rescued dog.”Martha Stern, the breeder who supplied the Obama family with their new pup.

“When he was resoundingly elected to office we were promised change. But, it seems, true to type the new American president is a politician at heart so should we really have expected anything different?” — Dog Magazine’s Ryan O’Meara.

“Yet despite all their stated good intentions, in the end the Obamas decided to allow their choice of dog to be guided, which is to say commandeered, by the Kennedys, and the Kennedy family’s breed preference for the rarefied Portuguese Water Dog.  Moreover, instead of even trying to find a Portie through a breed rescue, they chose to patronize the Kennedys’ own breeder (I know the official version of the story is that the new puppy is a “gift” from Ted Kennedy, but does anyone believe that gift wasn’t green-lighted by the Obamas?).”Kate Woodviolet, LA Examiner

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Heidi

    I’m an ethical vegan who loathes breeders and puppy mills.

    This situation is about the (poor) choice of a dog.

    It isn’t about a war, an economic crisis, an environmental problem or even a government scandal.

    I think people need to get over it and put their energies into something positive for animals.

  • Christine


    In case you haven’t realized, vocalizing our disgust that Obama rejected a shelter dog and instead chose to accept a “gifted” purebred dog from Senator Kennedy’s beloved breeding facility IS putting our energy into something positive for the animals.

    Obama’s choice will have far reaching (bad) consequences for millions of companion animals in this country. Many people will follow his example and reject shelter pets in favor of purebred portugese water dogs from prominent breeders/puppy mills. PWDs will become the new envoge breed and puppy mills will churn out thousands who will undoubtedly end up in shelters with their offspring.

    All the while, 4 MILLION + companion animals are being put to death in shelters for lack of homes.

    I’m pretty sure that’s something to get upset about.

    By failing to vocalize our outrage and disgust over this horrendously irresponsible decision, we would do a tremendous disservice to the animals.

    Silence = complicity

  • Lisa Williamson

    Let’s hope that President Obama will offer some new legislation governing the many thousands of puppy mills across the country.

  • Patricia


    Of the 4 million euthanized companion animals you mention, roughly one third are pure bred animals who did not fit in with their families. Nothing was guaranteed Bo just because he was a fancy breed. Bo was lucky that his first family was responsible enough to return him for a second chance instead of taking him to a shelter or turning him out on his own. That is a GREAT animal advocacy point right there and judging from the number of abandoned animals, the majority of which die miserably, it is a point that desperately needs to be made in a very public way. I’m glad that it was.

    The incredible amount of free publicity for adoption/rescue that has been consistently delivered by the media in the months since the whole puppy thing began is far beyond the reach and the budget of any animal advocacy organization (and probably all of them put together). The story was international. What a boon! And people are griping?!?!

    I think this will do a lot of good. Notice I said “I think” and not “It will” because I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE ACTUAL EFFECT OF THIS WILL BE AND NEITHER DO YOU.

    I am one of the countless people who have never had anything but rescue/stray animals and I don’t believe for one second that the Obamas’ ultimate decision to get a second-chance animal that didn’t come from a shelter is going to influence someone not to adopt rescue animals because they won’t be “fashionable”. On the flip side, the idiots who acquire a certain breed of dog to match their new furniture or get a puppy for their kids, get rid of it as soon as it is “too old” and get another puppy because they think their kids will have more fun aren’t going to fool with a rescue animal unless it fills their bill. These “fashionable” types will get whatever they want and if they have to, they’ll just say it was a rescue so they look cool. No difference from a shelter or a breeder; they’ll abandon the animal if they feel like it.

    We should be glad the issue was given so much national attention, people aren’t quite the mindless copy-cats you seem to think, you don’t know how much or even IF adoptions would have increase if the Obamas had gotten a shelter animal instead of giving Bo a forever home, and I think that your conspiracy theory of a despicable canine plot between Kennedy and the Obamas has earned you a tin foil hat.

    The dog needed a home, the Prez wanted a dog and Kennedy hooked them up!


  • erin

    Ted Kennedy is obviously a big unhealthy man who needs to take a good look at himself in the mirror (not that I’d want to if I were him) Seriously that family makes me want to puke.


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  • Lucy

    You know if everyone who’s outraged about this actually made a donation/volunteered time/rescued an animal it’d make a bigger difference than waiting for the ripple effect.

    Who cares where the President adopts his dog, that’s not going to change the laws about kill shelters. He can get his dog where he wants so long as his *actual* politics protect animals. The real solution is funding spay/neuter programs and doing away with kill shelters.

  • SusanEizabeth1949

    considering the fact that one of the Obama girls has an allergy to pet hair, adopting from a pound or rescue shelter wasn’t really feasible considering the very few number of breeds she could tolerate. Few and EXPENSIVE breeds, few of which wind up in a shelter. While all my dogs have been from the pound, I’m not allergic to their dander.

  • Mrs. Carly Goodman

    Obama went on talk shows and spoke about searching animal shelters for the right dog. He got on tv and talked about wanting a “mutt like me”. There were many offers from animal shelters to provide Obama with a hypoallergenic breed or hypoallergenic mix (PWD-Poodle)

    Many of us who work with animal shelters, or are just members of the Humane Society were very excited about this “promise”. In fact, Obama gave us “HOPE” on this issue.

    One of the reasons that I voted for him was his picture with Babe, the puppy mill survivor. I cried with happiness when he said he wanted a “mutt like me”.

    This was such a complete and utter let down. I will never believe a word that Obama says again.

    Yes, Obama is better than the fur wearing Mccain wife / daughters, or Palin’s aerial wolf hunting. But two wrongs does not make Obama right.

    And from a purely political standpoint, if 1 out of every 30 Americans are Humane Society members, you have to be pretty dumb to alienate that many voters.

    This was a simple act that he could have followed through on, and he did not. What the president does IS set the standard for a Nation. The standard he set was not the one that he indicated he would. Rich people like the Kennedys buy from reputable breeders. When the children of the average American family start begging for a puppy just like the Obamas have.. there is a very high chance that the puppy they will buy will have come from a puppy mill.

    If the reader is not familiar with puppy mills, goggle it and read about it. It is factory farming for dogs with females being bred over and over and then killed.

    Whenever Disney does a new release of 101 Dalmations, there is a surge of Dalmations showing up in every shelter. Obama is much more popular than a Disney movie. Our first black president? There is bound to be a surge of kids asking for a puppy just like Sasha and Malia have!

    Oh, and what happens when the average American gets tired of their new Obama puppy? They toss them off to the Humane Society. No donation from Obama will be able to cover the surge of PWD dogs that will be dropped off at their door.

    I’m angry, let down, saddened, and I will never have hope in Obama again.

  • Jenn

    Patricia, yeah shelters and rescue groups got lots of free press, but in the end the message is if the President isn’t even going to bother with a shelter why should anyone else.

    Truly a deeply disappointing choice on the Obamas’ part.

  • herwin

    Carly Goodman, you said it so very well.
    i still cant believe it, this isnt an issue where he had to make a political compromise and have a fight over it, it was a simple decision entirely made by himself and his family, and everybody (exept the breeders) would have loved him for making the right choiche.

  • Julia

    It was a dirty move by the Kennedy’s. They’re already closely affiliated with the breeder, so they made a deal. They probably knew that if they were rejected, it would be rather scandalous or “dishonorable” on the part of the Obama’s. But the more honorable thing would have been to just say no before it went public, and get a shelter dog. Either way, the Obama’s did bring a huge amount of light to the issue.