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Author feels bamboozled by Obama

Among those who are less than pleased with the Obama family’s decision against getting a rescue dog is Jana Kohl, whose book promoting adoption of animals featured a photo of Obama with her dog, a puppy mill refugee named Baby.

The author of “A Rare Breed of Love,” Kohl rescued Baby four years ago. Baby not only had her vocal chords removed with scissors but lost a leg due to the years of abuse at the hands of a breeder.

Not long after that, she decided to write a book calling attention to puppy mills. The book recounts Baby’s story and features photos of the dog with celebrities, including Paul Harvey, Steven Tyler, Bill Maher, Jim Cramer, and several politicians.

One of those politicians that agreed to meet with her was then-Senator Obama. Touched by Baby’s story, he then agreed to a photoshoot and, according to a press release promoting her book, pledged to Kohl that when he brought a dog home for his family, it would be a rescue dog – not one from a breeder.

This weekend’s announcement that the president opted to accept a puppy as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy (via a breeder) and not to go to a shelter or rescue center has left Kohl upset, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

“I feel like he’s made a mockery out of the book and the things I wrote about him,” Kohl told the Monitor’s “Vote Blog.”

“I read what I said about him and it makes me cringe.”

Kohl said that his decision is more distressing because of the possible domino effect it could have — fueling the puppy mill industry.

“To add insult to injury, during these tough economic times it is incredibly insensitive and elitist of them to do this, ” she said. “People are tearfully turning in their pets to shelters because they can’t afford them anymore. We see it on news all the time.”

(Photo from “A Rare Breed of Love.”)


Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time April 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

Hmm. I’m thinking assorted members of the adoption and rescue community are starting to look a bit weird and shabby. I’m beginning to feel little cringes of embarrassment on their behalf.

Nobody’s taken the time to consider that, in the sense of allergies, the Obamas might be a “special needs” family. They’re obviously familiar with the needs of their older child, and they’ve devoted some time to selecting a dog that will meet those needs, a dog who is much less likely to set off her allergies.

I have a scenario I’d like to suggest: First family adopts adorable shelter pup after much fanfare and many photo ops. After six weeks, daughter begins wheezing or developing asthma symptoms, rashes, swollen eyes, or what-have-you. Symptoms get worse. Child is not only uncomfortable but may be in danger. Yep, it happens.

I submit that the Obamas have acted responsibly. In the first place, they’ve selected a breed of dog less likely to foster these sorts of problems. In the second place, the dog has come from a responsible breeder. If problems do develop, or if they get severe enough to impact the child’s health, the people who brought Bo into the world will be only too happy to take him back and provide for him.

Emily Yoffe, who wrote “What the Dog Did” and who writes a column for Slate, coined a word that I think applies: Doggist. And in her view, doggists are a bit–well, a bit creepy. Here we seem to have: “Ignore your wheezing, sneezing child with the rashes and the watery eyes. It’s more important for you to follow our agenda than it is for you to select the right dog for your situation.”

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time April 15, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Oh my. Enough with the assorted “we’ve been betrayed” lament. I am a HUGE, stalwart proponent of adoption, and particularly of older, harder to place dogs, but the simple fact is: “Bo” needed a good, loving home. Forget how he happened to come into this life. Is he a more worthy pup if he first spent a couple months in a shelter? Six months old and no longterm human bond and home yet? Yikes! He sounds quite overdue and deserving to me. He will be diversely loved, treated royally and enviably, and he will etch on the hearts of each of the four family members in unique ways. Let all of ’em be, let ’em learn the wonderment as first-time dog owners, and may they love deeply and for many years.