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April 12, 2009

The HSUS Congratulates First Family on New White House Dog

Euthanasia Crisis Continues in Nation's Animal Shelters; Group Warns of Disreputable Breeders Who Might Take Advantage of Interest in the Breed

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States congratulates the Obamas on bringing a new dog, Bo, into their family, and thanks 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.

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

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. Yet, at the same time, there are more than 10,000 puppy mills churning out dogs for the pet trade to be sold to unsuspecting buyers.

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.

"We see faddism when it comes to pet-keeping in the movies, and we may see that scenario play out in the case with the First Family's selection of a Portuguese water dog," added Pacelle. "There are reputable breeders of these dogs, yet sadly we expect disreputable puppy mill operators to start producing them as well, intent on cashing in on the heightened awareness of this breed."

The Humane Society of the United States 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, and an advance look at the campaign is available at shelterpetproject.org.

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

For video footage of animal shelters and dogs, go to video.hsus.org.

Top five reasons to adopt your pet:

1. You'll Save a Life.  Sadly, three million healthy and treatable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because too many people give up their pets and too few people adopt from shelters. With more pets entering shelters due to the current economic downturn, it's more important than ever to consider adoption and give these pets a chance at a loving home.

2. You'll Get a Healthy Pet.  Animal shelters are brimming with happy, healthy animals just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelters examine and give vaccinations to animals when they arrive, and many spay or neuter them before being adopted. In addition to medical care, more and more shelters also screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors to make sure each family finds the right pet for its lifestyle.

3. You'll Save Money.  Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is much less expensive than buying a pet at a pet store or through other sources. In addition, animals from many shelters are already spayed or neutered and vaccinated, which makes the shelter's fee a real bargain.

4. You'll Feel Better. Pets have a way of putting a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups.

5. You’ll Help Stop Puppy Mills. By adopting instead of buying a pet, you can be certain you aren't supporting cruel puppy mills with your money. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop purchasing their puppies. Instead of buying, visit your local shelter where you will find healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs — including purebreds — just waiting for that special home — yours. 

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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