New White House pup Sunny: Why not a rescue dog?

The first family wanted new pup Sunny Obama to be a pal for Bo. But not everyone was 100 percent happy with the choice of the new dog, with some citing millions of shelter dogs that need homes. 

Pete Souza/The White House/ AP
In this image released by the White House, Bo (l.) and Sunny, the Obama family dogs, pose on the South Lawn of the White House, on Monday. The White House says the Obamas have added Sunny, a Portuguese Water Dog like Bo, to the first family. Sunny was born last June in Michigan and arrived at the White House on Monday.

Yes, the Obamas have a new dog. Her name is Sunny, and she’s a Portuguese Water Dog like incumbent White House pet, Bo.

The five-year-old Bo wasn’t getting enough doggie interaction, apparently, so a new addition was brought in to amplify the romping level in the Rose Garden. Sunny is 14 months old, was born in Michigan, and arrived at the White House on Monday.

“Sunny is the perfect little sister for Bo – full of energy and very affectionate – and the first family picked her name because it fit her cheerful personality,” said a White House blog post announcing the pet event.

As you might imagine, this fluffy, feel-good story is big Tuesday in social media. FLOTUS (that’s first lady of the US Michelle Obama, if you didn’t know) welcomed the new member of her family with a Twitter-pic post of the two dogs on the South Lawn with the Washington Monument in the background. Lots of room to run, it looks like.

President Obama tweeted a similar welcome, while the D.C.-based mainstream media spent much of Tuesday trying to figure out clever 140-character dog-related remarks for their own social platforms. A favorite of ours came from Washington Examiner political writer Rebecca Berg: “Team of rivals,” she wrote in a comment on a White House Instagram shot of Sunny and Bo.

That’s a reference to President Lincoln’s famously ambitious and cantankerous Cabinet, in case you didn’t know.

However, not everyone was completely, 100 percent happy about the choice of the new dog.

Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, noted on his blog Tuesday that the Obamas made little reference to exactly where Sunny came from, other than to note that it’s the Great Lakes State.

But given her pure-bred status, it’s unlikely that Sunny came from a rescue organization or a shelter.

“As we always say in such circumstances, we hope the Obamas considered adoption or rescue as the first choice in obtaining a pet,” wrote Mr. Pacelle.

Pacelle did thank the Obamas for making a donation to the Humane Society in Sunny's name. He also thanked the administration for pushing two rules to help reduce the suffering of dogs sold in retail commerce. One would ban importation from foreign countries of any puppy-mill dog younger than six months. Another would close a loophole and require inspection and licensing of Internet sellers of puppy-mill dogs.

But the administration hasn’t yet issued final regulations for these moves.

“It’s time for the White House to make these policies law. No more delays,” wrote Pacelle.

As to the rescue dog issue, about 21 percent of America’s 78 million canine companions came from rescue or shelter organizations, according to Humane Society figures.

One big area of progress has been the decreasing use of euthanasia to put down unclaimed and unadopted shelter animals.

From 1970 to 2010, the number of such euthanizations went down by 12 million to 20 million, to an estimated 3.4 million.

“However, there’s still work to do: An estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year,” according to the Humane Society.

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