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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bo arrives to mixed national reactions

Once again, the White House residence is home to a dog -- a Portuguese water dog, to be specific.

And despite what thought was a guarantee, 6-month-old Bo IS NOT a shelter animal, according to reports.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who advocated for the breed all along, facilitated the Obamas' union with Texas breeders Art and Martha Stern, owners of Amigo Portuguese Water Dogs in Boyd.

Kennedy even bought one of Bo's littermates, Cappy, according to the American Kennel Club.

The AKC officially congratulated the first family on its addition, but have expressed sadness and disappointment.

"This is truly a missed opportunity to set a pet-adoption trend among Americans," Executive Director Abbie Moore said in a statement. "If Obama had adopted a pet from a shelter, it could have been the turning point for the pet-overpopulation problem in this country. With pet relinquishment up 20 to 30 percent due to the poor economy, pets in shelters can use all the help they can get."

In the same statement, also announced an upcoming "Social Petworking" campaign, allowing Americans to send links for adoptable pets to friends and family, and use sharing tools to post information about the pets on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

Initially I felt the Obamas' decision justified. I sympathize with animal shelters, but didn't think the Obama daughters, ages 10 and 7, should be forced to choose a new companion based on a political statement. Not everything needs to be political in their lives, does it? Plus Kennedy is a family friend.

But now I've had a change of heart. I don't begrudge the dog or the family, but this was a missed opportunity to empower Malia and Sasha, to let them experience the national impact of their actions and see what could have been an awesome upswing in shelter adoptions.

Today I'm thinking about what a difference the other decision would have made -- and wondering why the Obamas didn't embrace their role-model status as a teaching moment.

-- Sandra M. Klepach,


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