President-elect Barack Obama to Adopt Dog?

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama promised his daughters a dog following the conclusion of the election. Now, with Obama headed to the White House, that promise has become national news. Animal welfare advocates across the country are scrambling for the new First Dog to be a shelter animal. The Best Friends Network has even created a website dedicated to convincing the Obamas to adopt.

However, Obama's daughter, Malia, has allergies, and Obama's concerned he might not be able to find a shelter animal that fits his family's needs. “There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic, but on the other hand our preference is to get a shelter dog, but obviously, a lot of the shelter dogs are mutts like me,” Obama said. “So, whether we are going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.”

Malia, after researching dog breeds, said she'd like a goldendoodle (golden retriever and poodle cross). The uproar that caused in the rescue community is absolutely absurd. Lobbyists got their feathers ruffled and started to campaign against a purebred animal. "The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals," reports the New York Times, "wrote to the Obamas saying that a purebred would be 'elitist.'"

Picture me rolling my eyes here. Elitist? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I understand their concern. But there are plenty of purebred pets looking for homes.

The Best Friends Network issued a press release on November 7th urging the Obamas to search for hypoallergenic shelter dogs, stating "that shelters include both purebred, mixed breed dogs." They went on to say "while it is true that the majority of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds, a surprising 1 out of every 4 shelter dogs are purebreds."

Interesting, somewhat related, link: "Like Home, Pets Rule the White House and Not Just for Obama."

Adopt a Senior: Chelse

Chelse is an eight-year-old blue-cream calico located at the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, Connecticut. She was surrendered there on June 2nd, 2008, because her owner could no longer afford her. She's been spayed and has been tested for leukemia and AIDS - all pets are tested for these diseases when they are dropped off - Chelse's tests were negative. She's been given Advantage for fleas and ticks; so you can be sure she won't bring any unwanted visitors with her to her new home! In addition, she's received both her distemper and rabies shots.

Chelse did have a small problem with one of her ears. It's been treated, but the adoption counselor I talked to warned me that it might be an ongoing issue. Nothing terrible; but her new owner might be required to give her ear-drops on a regular basis. Or, she could heal up and the problem will go away permanently. It's something they're keeping an eye on.

She's been tested with both dogs and cats. She hisses, but is otherwise okay. It's my understanding then, that with patience she could be introduced and comfortable with any other furry members of your household. According to her file, her previous home had other cats that terrorized her - which is where her aversion comes from, I think. She just needs love and understanding to help her through.

I took a personal interest in Chelse and went down to the shelter to meet her. She's a gorgeous, wonderful girl. She's excellent with people - she didn't shy away from me, nor did she get upset when I touched her tail (which some cats do) or when I came up to her from behind. She absolutely loves being scratched on the face. She also enjoys watching through windows. She sat by the window in the door of our interview room and stared at everyone passing by. I think she'd love a window she could look out of with birds and trees!

It took her some time to get used to me and have her attention turn from the window, but eventually she curled up next to me, so don't let her fool you. She's interested in going home with you. She was also very vocal (which is something I love, my cat Toby is also a talker). She interacted well with me the whole time.

Chelse's adoption fee is $70; this includes some food, a cardboard carrier, a collar, certificates saying she's had her shots, and a toy. It was also noted in her file that she comes with a care package, though the adoption counselor wasn't sure what that included.

Chelse needs a home! She's been at that shelter for months and would love a family to be with. If you're interested, simply drive down to the shelter and speak to an adoption counselor. They're friendly and helpful down there, and they'd be pleased to speak with you.

In Need of Help Caring for Your Pet?

I've blogged about the effect of the economy on shelters and pet owners before; and, I mentioned grants available to animal rescue groups in need of financial help. But, what about the rest of us? We pet owners struggling to feed every member of our family - not just the human ones.

If you're having trouble affording your pet, the Humane Society of the United States has complied an excellent resource: a nationwide list of pet financial-aid organizations.

Greyhound Racing

After posting about Bubba yesterday, I decided I wanted to learn a bit more about the greyhound racing industry. I was not pleased. Racing greyhounds are horribly misused - and that's only as long as their owners deem them worth keeping. When the dogs stop winning races and making money, often times they're put to death. In addition, many owners breed dozens of puppies in order to create a champion. The dogs that aren't considered good racing investments are also euthanized. "An estimated 5,000 dogs were killed in 2003," reports Grey2K USA, a United States greyhound advocacy group.

In 1996, Idaho Governor Phil Batt stated, "Greyhound racing depends upon selecting a few highly competitive dogs out of a large group. It hardly seems worth it to me to go through that process of breeding and killing the ones that can't compete, just to have the sport."

While many states no longer permit greyhound racing; and, Massachusetts even banned it based on popular vote - ten states still permit it. (To read more about Massachusetts's racing ban: Behind the Tracks of Greyhound Racing and a win in 2008 for Massachusetts.)

Racing greyhounds are horribly mistreated. They're kept hours a day in kennels far too small for them; in many cases there's no room for them to stand or lie down. As well, they're fed low-grade meat, because it's cheaper, and transported between tracks in awful, hot, cramped trucks.

It's an awful industry. Please keep informed of voting in your area to ban racing, and do all you can to help. Check out Grey2K USA's website for more information.

Adopt a Dog: Bubba

Bubba (also known as R.C. Big Boy) is a retired, two-year-old brindle male greyhound currently placed in a foster home via the We Adopt Greyhounds, Inc. rescue in Glastonbury, Connecticut. We Adopt Greyhounds is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 that places retired racing greyhounds in homes.

According to their website, Bubba is shy and incredibly skittish. His nerves make him ideal for an experienced and patient pet owner, but not someone who is unused to owning a dog, or who doesn't have the time to spend acclimating Bubba to his new home. He's good with cats, and must have a doggy companion to spend time with. So if you don't have another dog waiting at home to meet him, perhaps he's not the best match for you. Also, your home should be quiet; I would assume somewhere country-ish, and far from too many loud noises like cars, trains and the cachophony of a city.

Find out more about Bubba at the WAG's website!

Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln!

Written by Ellen Jackson, author of Abe Lincoln Loved Animals.

On February 12, 2009, the nation will celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

We all know that Abe Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents, a man who was born in a log cabin and led our nation in its darkest hour. But, here’s something you may not know. Abraham Lincoln loved animals–all kinds of animals–and he rescued quite a few during his lifetime.

When he was a child, Abe talked to his classmates and told them that cruelty to animals was wrong. Once as a young man, he waded across a treacherous stream to rescue a dog. The ice on the water cut his legs and the footing was unsure. But even though everyone tried to stop him, Abe knew he had to rescue the scared animal.

This behavior may not seem unusual to you, but kindness to animals wasn’t considered important in the nineteenth century. The people Abraham Lincoln grew up with were hardy frontiersmen and no-nonsense farmers. Animals were raised for food. They were trained to hunt or work in the fields. If they were old, useless, or sick, they were discarded.

But Abe Lincoln was different. He was a humanitarian--a man who loved children and animals and whose heart ached for anyone who was suffering.

Abraham Lincoln never cared for fancy clothes. But when he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly, he bought his first good suit. The suit cost him sixty dollars–an amount which would probably be several hundred dollars in today’s currency.

One day, when Abe was out riding in the country, wearing his good suit, he saw a young pig stuck in a mudhole. Abraham knew he would ruin his suit if he got down in the mud and pulled the pig out. He tried not to look at the animal as he rode by. But the poor creature’s eyes seemed to say, “There, now! My last hope is gone.”

Abraham couldn’t stand that look in the pig’s eyes. He went back, got down into the mud in his good clothes, and worked until he’d freed the pig.

When Abraham Lincoln got married and had a family, the house was often filled with animals: cats, dogs, and even pet rats. A big, floppy-eared mutt named Fido came to live with the Lincolns. And Abe was always bringing stray kittens home to his children. His wife once said that cats and kittens were his “hobby.”

Abraham Lincoln’s concern for animals didn’t end when he became President. On one occasion, the President and his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, rescued some peacocks. Ropes had been tied to the birds’ feet to keep them from flying off, and these had become entangled in the trees where the peacocks were roosting. Lincoln and Stanton unwound all the ropes so the peacocks could fly down in the morning.

There were many animals in Lincoln’s White House. At various times the family had a dog name Jip, at least one cat, a pair of goats, a horse, two ponies, a turkey named Jack, and some rabbits. In spite of the dreadful problems the country faced, Abraham Lincoln had room in his heart for all the living creatures that shared the White House with him.

On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, remember our remarkable 16th President and his respect and love for animals.

If you’d like to know more about Abe Lincoln’s many relationships with animals, read Abe Lincoln Loved Animals by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger and published by Albert Whitman.

SPCA Shelter Nominations

Know a local rescue group that could use a financial pick-me-up? The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International (SPCA) is offering grants to shelters and animal rescue groups across the nation. To nominate your local group for the grant, visit the SPCA International website for more information about the program and a nomination form.

Here are some basic requirements for the shelters; they must:

Be an active 501(c)(3) community based animal welfare organization; meet all the licensing and registration compliances required by law; have an annual operating budget preferably under $500,000; operate with at least a 60/40 split of volunteers compared to staff, with total paid staff preferably under 10 individuals; not sell any of the animals they are responsible for to research facilities; and require companion animals in their care to be spayed or neutered as part of their adoption contract. -

Economic Crisis Reducing Animal Adoption Rates

We're not the only ones suffering. According to several news outlets, animal adoptions have significantly dropped over the past couple of months. With so many family's struggling just to keep their homes, there's no extra to spend on adopting an additional family member.

"Unfortunately, dogs and cats are kind of considered a luxury item," says Reagen Kulseth, founder of SAFE (Saving Animals From Euthanasia). "They're an extra expense people can't justify."

"It's quite a dramatic drop-off [in adoptions]," states John Welsh, Riverside County, California's animal services spokesman. "It's a trend we don't want to see."

Not only are animals not getting placed in permanent homes, donations to the shelters that care for homeless animal's are decreasing as well. This makes it hard for the shelters to deal with the animals they can't adopt out; leading to overcrowding and serious financial trouble. According to, a group called the Sunburst Foundation, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, "'adopted out' about twenty dogs" last year. "This year, it's been able to place only two or three."

Meanwhile, more and more familys are giving up their animals to shelters, because they no longer have the funds necessary to care for them - adding yet more unplaceable pets to shelters that are suffering the same constraints as the owners who dropped the animals off.

Kulseth's SAFE, "like many other rescue groups...has cut back on the number of animals they take in."

Pets have been among the voiceless victims of the current economic downturn. Animals have been left behind in foreclosed homes, and shelters are reporting that families are struggling to keep and feed pets. -

The Humane Society of the United States, in response to the problem, issued a press release offering grants to rescue groups in need.

ARO Affiliates Program

If you'd like to exchange links, post a comment here. Leave a link to your blog. Only blogs suitable for all ages, please. We'll put your link on our affiliates list. After a week, if a link to ARO isn't posted on your blog in return, we'll take down the link to your site. Thank you!

Adopt a Senior: Menunu

Menunu is a six-year-old black & white male cat located at the ASPCA headquarters in New York City, New York. His age makes it harder for him to find a home, because most adopters are looking for younger cats or kittens. However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a wonderful addition to your home! Kori Irons writes, "I've found with senior cats, the affect on the household has been less than with the adoption of a kitten."

There are things to consider before adopting a senior animal, however. "They are more used to routine and set in their ways and you may notice a despondency that isn't obvious with a younger cat."

The ASPCA Feline-ality program has categorized Menunu as a Sidekick. This means he's good company; he loves attention, but he also likes some alone time. I can relate.

Find out more about Menunu at the ASPCA website!

Update: ASPCA Blog has featured Menunu!

Write for ARO

If you'd like to become a staff writer, or simply submit a one-time piece, we'd be pleased to hear from you. We can't pay writers for articles at this time; your submission would be considered a charitable effort.

So, what do we need written? Articles on animal welfare topics such as fighting animal cruelty, proper pet care, etc; short stories about adopting an animal and the experience that goes along with it (these can be fictional or based on actual experiences); profiles on shelters and animals across the nation; news blurbs; and, interviews with people involved in animal welfare, from shelter owners to volunteers and pet foster parents.

For a single-story submission, e-mail your piece to We'll get back to you within a week. If we haven't gotten back to you within a week, you may resend. Please be aware that not all articles and stories will be chosen.

If you would like to become a staff member of ARO, send an e-mail to indicating so. You will be sent an application to fill out.

Questions regarding writing for ARO should be submitted via comments. E-mailed questions will not be answered.

Welcome to ARO!

I've had this idea in mind for some time, though it took a while before I had the time to actually act upon it. Animal Rescue Online is a volunteer blog to promote pets in need of homes. Shelters operate on donations and often times don't have enough money for publicity. That's where ARO hopes to help!