By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
UPDATE: The White House seems to have beaten PETA to the punch. They tell Whispers that Bo has already been neutered.
The Obamas are getting something every new pet owner receives: advice. The latest comes from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and it's this: Have your Portuguese water dog neutered. Bo, the new pup, is a male, and would most likely be ready for the operation by the fall.
Says PETA's President Ingrid Newkirk, "Now that you have brought a dog into your family, we urge you to take a most important action—have Bo sterilized. We are sending you a coupon good for one free sterilization at PETA's SNIP clinic, which you are welcome to use or pass on to a member of your Cabinet or someone in a low-income neighborhood of Washington, D.C."
The letter, provided to Whispers, was just faxed to the first lady's office. We haven't yet heard the response. But the White House might not be quick to respond since PETA was miffed that the Obamas didn't go through with plans to get a shelter dog. Here's the full letter:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
Now that you have brought a dog into your family, we urge you to take a most important action—have Bo sterilized. We are sending you a coupon good for one free sterilization at PETA's SNIP clinic, which you are welcome to use or pass on to a member of your Cabinet or someone in a low-income neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
We love that the girls are going to grow up with a dog, as having a dog teaches people an extra dimension of love and allows youngsters to see into the lives and feelings of others who experience the same emotions as they do: joy, pain, confusion, loneliness, fear, and love of life. Loving and caring for a member of a different species also teaches compassion for those who are like us in so many ways, except that they are in a different type of body and have a somewhat different culture.
While it is disquieting that your decision to get a "purebred" dog from a breeder will inspire others to do the same and that the subtlety of acquiring a dog who had a home but originally came from a breeding kennel may be lost on most people, we are grateful that you plan to make a donation to the Washington Humane Society (WHS), where I used to be director of cruelty investigations; funds are always needed there. However, money alone, unless you pour in as much as the Iraq war has cost us, cannot "fix" the overpopulation problem. Please show that you understand this by making the first dog the last dog of his line and having Bo neutered. Sex in the White House has been the topic of past scandals, but with a simple "snip," the first dog can set a new tone and a great example.
In the U.S. alone, up to 8 million animals are abandoned in animal shelters each year, and half of them must be put to death for lack of a good home. Simply put, every animal purchased from a breeder or pet store takes a home away from a needy, homeless animal. Because the spotlight is now on your new dog, people will imitate your actions and may seek out breeder without giving a thought to the tragic consequences of breeding or considering the time and money it takes to care for an animal properly.
We look forward to hearing that Bo will be getting neutered. This will set a fine example for the world to follow, and Bo will be the happier for it. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk
Click here for our First Dog Bo Obama Photo Gallery.
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Updated on 4/13/09