Bo the Portuguese water dog is cute, fluffy, and has done well growing up in the White House limelight.
But he also represents a broken campaign promise.
President Obama promised author Jana Kohl, who had been lobbying on Capitol Hill to end puppy mills, that he would adopt a dog. He even posed with her three-legged poodle rescued from an abusive breeder in a photo that was carried on the cover of American Dog magazine.
In October 2008, Michelle Obama told Entertainment Tonight that her family would be adopting a shelter dog after the election. The news was welcomed by groups that had been trying to persuade the Obamas to opt for a rescue dog after he’d mentioned they might get a goldendoodle because they’re hypoallergenic.
“Senator, no one needs to tell you that this country is proud to be a melting pot, and that there is something deeply wrong and elitist about wanting only a purebred dog,” PETA wrote Obama at the time. “Millions of Great American Mutts—the dog that should be our national dog—are set to die in our nation’s extremely overcrowded pounds and shelters for lack of good homes. Compassionate people nationwide are choosing to adopt a homeless pound puppy—a grateful refugee from a society that has not always treated the true ‘underdog’ kindly—rather than cater to special interests who do not have dogs’ interests at heart.”
The Best Friends Animal Society gathered more than 50,000 petition signatures urging the Obamas to adopt instead of buying or acquiring one from a breeder.
So shortly before the election, Michelle Obama made that vow — they would get a rescue dog.
“We hope that the Obama family really listened to our message, and we hope that Barack, Michelle, and their daughters find a loving mutt who needs a good home,” PETA responded.
Well… they didn’t get the message. Instead, they got a purebred “gift” from Uncle Teddy.