Wednesday, August 21, 2013

POTUS and Puppies

This month, two big news pieces about the President and pups hit the media. 

1. The Obama family brought a new dog, Sunny, into their lives.
2. The White House issued a formal statement regarding breed specific legislation.

Bo and Sunny enjoy some outside time together.
While Sunny is getting settled into her new (and very public) lifestyle, many animal advocates are upset because the president did not adopt a shelter dog. This is the second pup that the Obama's have welcomed since moving into the White House, the first being Bo, an adorable Portuguese Water Dog who was a gift to the family after they began their search for the perfect pooch. Now, I can't say I am thrilled with the idea that our President went the breeder route, but there are plenty of positives that come out of this situation. 

First and foremost, we have a President that loves dogs! Of course, plenty of past Presidents have loved dogs as well, but it is so nice to see photos of a President that spends time playing with his pups. 

In addition, The Obama's do have health concerns for their children. Malia Obama has allergies, and as a precaution to ensure that their daughter can play with their pups, they did want to choose a dog that would have a forever home with them - and that means looking primarily at breeds that are hypoallergenic. 

As a dog lover, I adore all dogs, but I don't necessarily want all breeds as my own pets. I don't know the Obama's personally, but I imagine that Bo made quite an impression on them and they were really interested in another Portuguese Water Dog to add to the family. A quick search on shows only 16 rescue dogs that fall under the Portuguese Water Dog breed in the entire country. Taking into account that about half of those dogs are not at all correctly breed labeled, I can understand why the Obama's took on the idea of a breeder puppy.  Regardless of where Sunny's background lies, the first family does offer support of shelters and plans to make a donation in her name to the Washington Humane Society. 

In addition to the news about our new political pup, the White House has also issued another statement that is sure to be HUGE in future and current Breed Specific Legislation issues. The official White House Statement on BSL:

We don't support breed-specific legislation -- research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it's virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds.
The CDC also noted that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren't deterred by breed regulations -- when their communities establish a ban, these people just seek out new, unregulated breeds. And the simple fact is that dogs of any breed can become dangerous when they're intentionally or unintentionally raised to be aggressive.
For all those reasons, the CDC officially recommends against breed-specific legislation -- which they call inappropriate. You can read more from them here.
As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. And ultimately, we think that's a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners."
This is great news for all dogs, not just the 'pit bull' breeds that are currently the primary targets for this type of legislation. While laws on the state and city levels are not run by the Federal government, this statement gives such hope to everyone who is fighting against these unfair laws.

Kudos to the White House for giving such a researched and well worded response to citizen concerns and welcome to the first family little Sunny! 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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