Presidential Pets Back in the News with Election of Biden

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Composite image by Anderson Graphics

Delbert Foote, Staff Reporter

The pet of a president can be anything and I mean anything, animals that have lived in the White House include alligators, horses, chickens, cows, dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals. A few presidents didn’t have any interest in, or time for animals, but historically they have been the minority.

The president usually has a cute companion while in office but not for the past 4 years of the Trump family. But maybe the next 4 years will have 2 German Shepherds and 1 cat as first pets. President-Elect Joe Biden and his wife will bring Major and Champ, plus a fluffy feline.

The White House only had two presidents that did not own any animal while in office. Donald J. Trump and James K. Polk. James K. Polk was reported stating “No president who performs his duties faithfully can have any leisures”  even though he was a horse lover; Polk also did not seek a second term. Donald J. Trump on the other hand has stated that he “would love to get a dog but I would have no time for him.” Trump also went on to state that he felt that it would be kinda phony, because he saw that getting a dog would be seen as a publicity stunt.

The White House does not have a limit on animals allowed in the house. Under Theodore Roosevelt, the White House was quite literally a zoo, Roosevelt had more than 12 animals in office. One time though they had 16 animals for a little while. 

Teddy Roosevelt’s son once brought four snakes and barged into a meeting that he was having and hugged him, and then dropped the snakes on the table. This scared everyone except Roosevelt. The snakes were all captured and returned to the pet store.

Presidents that have had pets usually defend their pets. One in particular is FDR with his Scottish terrier, Fala. Fala was a close companion of the president, Fala would travel with FDR for meetings and travels the president made, and was even shown in a movie about “A Day in the White House.”

Fala was even attacked by Republican congressmen. The men accused FDR for spending millions of tax dollars to bring Fala home on a destroyer after accidentally leaving him at Aleutian islands. FDR made a speech on a US broadcasting radio (I’m paraphrasing here) that he does not mind that they attack him or his family but once you attack my dog, he and I will get mad.

Many stories exist of presidents and their pets;  I got some of this information from (and would recommend looking up) the Presidential Pet Museum. You can take a weekly Presidential Pet trivia quiz, and learn a lot. Just don’t go dragging them into politics!