Why The U.S. President Should Adopt A Shelter Dog

America is the land of opportunity. Often we hear presidential hopefuls explain how they’ll perpetuate the American Dream if elected. If the next President of the United States adopts a shelter dog, what a powerful message that would send to the American public.

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Eli Frank, Co-Founder and Director of Mr. Bones and Co., a non-profit supporting animal rescue and advocacy, explains how the next president’s choice to adopt would affect animal homelessness nationwide:

“The impact would be incredible. This notion of leading by example would have widespread, positive ramifications, encouraging Americans to be more open-minded when it comes to adding a furry family member… A president who adopts a dog rather than purchasing [would let] the American public know that if a rescue dog is good enough for the White House, it’s good enough for YOUR house!”

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According to the ASPCA, there are about 75 million dogs and 85 million cats owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat.

While many presidents have had purebred dogs in the White House, adopting a shelter dog goes beyond breed. In fact, the results from a sample study of U.S. Animal Shelters concluded that about 70% of animals found in shelters are mutts and 30% are purebred. Shelter dogs, young or old, purebred or mixed, are often in dire need for people to take them in as they are all homeless, and many, regardless of their pedigree, are at risk for euthanasia.

The same ASPCA study states roughly 7.6 million companion animals enter the shelter system each year. About 35% of those animals are euthanized annually. The Coalition for Pets & Public Safety states that U.S. taxpayers pay an estimated $2 billion each year to round up, house, euthanize, and dispose of homeless animals.

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Having a pet in the White House is tradition and only one president in our country’s entire history didn’t have one. If the next president of the United States were to adopt a shelter dog, it would be a small way to make a huge impact on a  largely avoidable problem.

Top Dog 2016 is a campaign that, alongside several animal rescue group partners (including Mr. Bones and Co.) is encouraging candidates and citizens alike to make a written commitment addressing animal homelessness. Marco Greenberg of the Top Dog 2016 campaign explains, “Animal homelessness is a widespread epidemic that can and should be addressed on a national level. Even taking the steps to address the problem on a local or gubernatorial level can have a huge impact on the lives of countless animals.”

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Eli Frank explains how a dog’s loyalty is often what’s most important in the end: “A dog raised in a neglectful or abused home can absolutely be rehabilitated. With time, compassion and consistency, a stable home and kind environment can enable a dog to flourish. Oftentimes, the effect of a stable environment and care can be seen almost immediately. It is incredibly important to note that an unknown past does in no way mean a dog will have issues. In fact, the vast majority of them do not have serious issues. Dogs are loyal by nature. An unknown past does not negate the loyalty a dog can bestow on their new owner(s).”

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Whether you’re in a position to adopt or not, you can make a difference to help save animals lives: Encourage elected officials to sign the Top Dog Pledge, use your network to spread the word about animals up for adoption, or even reach out to your preferred presidential candidate and ask that they make adoption their first option.

It’s time for a shelter dog in the White House, and if Americans make it clear it’s something we care about, together we can influence the most powerful person on earth to make it happen.

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