Biden gets new dog - animal rights advocates not happy

Jake Turcotte

The new puppy's cute.  But what puppy isn't?  (OK, except chihuahuas).

We're talking about Joe Biden's new dog.  Of course, all the news about presidential pets has been about Barack Obama's promise to his daughters to get a new First Dog for the White House.

But Joe and his wife Jill had a similar arrangement.  If he and Obama won in November, they'd get a dog.  And just to make sure the Veep-elect didn't forget, Jill taped up different photos of dogs in his plane during the campaign (maybe even on his harrowing helicopter experience).

Bought a dog

Not one to disappoint, Biden lived up to his promise Saturday and purchased a pooch - a three month old German Shepherd from a breeder in East Coventry, Pennsylvania (only 104 miles from his hardscrabble roots in Scranton, PA).

The name of the dog?  Doesn't have one yet.  He's letting his granddaughters have the honors.

The puppy will replace the outgoing Vice Presidential dogs Jackson and Dave who dressed as Darth Vader and Superman for Halloween in 2007.

The puppy

Why a German Shepherd?  Biden likes 'em.  He's had three before and apparently they've worked out.

"[Biden's] familiar with the breed and its personality," Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander told Delaware Online. "He's excited to bring it home when it gets a little older and has promised that his grandchildren can name it after the New Year."


Is everyone happy with the pick?  Nope.  Adoption advocates are upset that he chose to go to a breeder instead of selecting a dog from an animal shelter.  After all, estimates are that four million animals a year are put down because they don't have owners.

"We are surprised that Sen. Biden chose to purchase a dog from a commercial kennel since he has been a leader on animal-protection issues and has championed a number of important animal-welfare reforms in the Senate," Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "President-elect Obama can send a stronger message of hope and change for animals by adopting a homeless dog from an animal shelter or rescue group."

Grrrrr... (part 2)

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is equally unhappy.  A day after the election, the founder of the organization - Ingrid Newkirk - sent a letter to Biden asking that he adopt a "pound puppy."  Her plea apparently was not heeded.

Writes Christine Dore' on the PETA files blog:

"I was extremely disappointed to read that Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife bought a dog from a breeder instead of adopting one from an animal shelter," writes Dore'.  "Obviously he or his wife blanked on Ingrid's letter, which asked him to consider adopting," she wrote. "Every year, U.S. animal shelters are forced to euthanize millions of wonderful, deserving dogs and cats because of the lack of good homes."

PETA, never an organization to shy away from controversy, promised to run a public service announcement reminding "Mr. Biden and his home state of Delaware that every time someone buys a dog from a breeder, a dog in an animal shelter is killed," Dore' writes.

Obama = Hope

So far only Biden is in PETA's doghouse.  They still like Obama.

"Mr. Biden may have let us down, but we're still pinning our hopes on President-elect Obama, who said, "[a] lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," writes Dore'.

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