As Americans get closer to selecting the next president — and with an election season that has been far from ordinary — a new advocacy campaign is hoping to make way for the first ever rescue dog in the White House.
The Top Dog 2016 campaign — launched by agencies Thunder11 and Buzzhunter — brings together animal rescue organizations from across the country with the mission to encourage the incoming commander in chief to adopt, instead of buy, his or her four-legged best friend.
Among the nine partnering organizations, which each nominate their non-partisan pooches from their shelters, are New York City’s Mr. Bones & Co., LIC Feral & Friends, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, and The Animal Project.
Manhattan’s Mr. Bones & Co., which is located at 1123 Broadway, has nominated not one, but six candidates, including a mom named Lucy and her pups – the Peanuts – named Charlie Brown, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy.
According to Elizabeth Frank, owner of Mr. Bones & Co., bringing a rescue dog into the White House would help teach Americans to not pass up mixed breed animals or which have been abused or abandoned and need time to trust people.
“What better advocate for adopting and rescue than the White House?” Frank said. “If it’s good enough for the president of the United States of America, then it’s good enough for your family.”
LIC Ferals & Friends from Queens decided to select Kramer, a pitbull named after the “Seinfeld” character, as its nominee.
Rescuer Gina Lori said the first family selecting a pitbull would help dispel the bad rap the breed gets for being aggressive toward humans and other animals. The maligned breed, she said, is very loyal and gentle.
“Every single presidential election, the presidential family buys a dog from a breeder and it’s totally a blow to all the rescue efforts that are done across the country,” Lori said. “But if they do decide to adopt, it would be very historic and would be a great victory for us.”
Presidents in the past, including current White House occupant Barack Obama, have opted for pure breed dogs, such as golden and Labrador retrievers, Portugese water dogs, and King Charles spaniels.
However, along with welcoming the first rescue into the Oval Office, the campaign also hopes to raise awareness on the importance of adoption.
“This is truly a labor of love to raise awareness about the fact that millions of animals are looking for homes and the benefits they provide for owners is immeasurable,” said Marco Greenberg, co-creator of the campaign and president of Thunder11. “We want to send a message that it is really important to at least consider adopting a dog.”
Greenberg – who has two rescue dogs and two rescue cats – added that along with sharing a message of both care and compassion to all Americans, getting a rescue to join the First Family would also help aide a crisis that sees about 7.6 million animals enter shelters nationwide.
Along with helping millions of animals find homes, advocating for adopting rescues would also help lift an economic burden on Americans as a whole.
According to the ASPCA, taxpayers pay close to $2 billion each year to help round up, house and in most cases euthanize shelter dogs.
Voters in the campaign can get to know the candidates and choice their favorites via the Top Dog website and, although the pooches are up for the presidential seat, they are all also up for adoption from other families as well.
The other organizations involved include The Brittany Foundation, Dachshund Rescue of Los Angeles and spcaLA in California; the Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation; and PetConnect Rescue in Maryland.
Greenberg said that other organizations are also encouraged to join the campaign.
And although advocacy for shelter animals has dramatically grown in recent years, he believes that getting the next president to opt for adoption, would give the movement a large boost.
“The good news is that we’re heading in the right direction and the bad news is that we still have a really long way to go,” he said. “This is not just about counting votes in a popularity contest, the real mission is to get these dogs into a home.”