Rescue dog in the White House could spark increase in shelter pet adoptions

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RUSSELL TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW)– The White House is once again home to a presidential pup, only President Joe Biden‘s “first dog” Major Biden is no minor addition.

As the first rescue dog adopted from a shelter in the White House, he could help shake off myths about adopted pets.

“A lot of people think of adopted pets as they’re broken, they have issues. And in reality, they are some of the best dogs and cats are out there,” said Erin Hawes, Rescue Village shelter manager.

The Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village is optimistic about the message Major could send across the country and in Northeast Ohio about shelter pet adoptions. Despite all the obstacles of adopting during a pandemic, Rescue Village did record more adoptions than initially expected in 2020.

“We actually did even with COVID and our doors being closed, we were able to adopt out over 1,200 animals last year so that has been incredible,” Hawes said.

The number is still lower than recorded in 2019, where more than 2,000 pets were adopted. What the shelter lost in adoption numbers, they gained in popularity surrounding the option to foster a pet as they wait for adoption.

Will Zaslavsky, the shelter’s dog behavior specialist, said it’s important before adopting to consider the pets’ temperament and the how the dog would fit into the family.

“You certainly want to do your research as far as what sort of breed characteristics you want to have as well as what sort of environment are you bringing the dog into,” said Zaslavsky. “If it’s a high-traffic environment, that’s probably not the best place for an older dog that just wants to be left alone.”

The President’s dog Major, a German shepherd, was adopted from a shelter in Delaware in 2018. He will have the run of the White House along with President Biden’s second dog Champ.

If you’re looking for a pet, Hawes said don’t overlook the local rescue where you might find a major addition to the family.

“We really do hope that having a rescue dog in the White House sort of sheds light on the fact that there are still so many animals in shelters that need homes,” said Hawes.

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