Major Biden will be the first shelter dog in the White House, and that’s good news for all the animals in need of a forever home.

Four years have been a miss for animal lovers who may have missed seeing a presidential dog in the White House. Many people who celebrated Joe Biden being named the winner of the 2020 election over Donald Trump also launched into a second piece of news: that the Bidens plan to take their Champion and Senior German Shepherds with them to the West Wing.

And Major, whom the Bidens adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018 after raising him for several months, will be the first dog rescued from an animal shelter to live in the White House. This drew applause from people like the ASPCA. In fact, the Delaware Humane Association is hosting a virtual “indulgence” party for Major just three days before Joe Biden’s inauguration. He hopes to attract 1,000 people and their pets to a Zoom event to raise money for the shelter. What’s more, a feline friend could also join the West Wing, as Dr. Jill Biden told Fox 5 in Washington, DC: “I would love to have a cat. I love having animals in the house. “This would be the first buzzard in the White House since President George W. Bush’s cat, India, also known as Willie. While some reports have said that Major will be the first rescue pet from In the White House, fact-checkers at Snopes.com note that President Lyndon B. Johnson’s mixed-breed dog, Yuki, was found by Johnson’s daughter, Luci, at a gas station on Thanksgiving in 1966. Luci officially gave the dog to her father as a birthday present in 1967. Abraham Lincoln also had an abandoned puppy named Fido, but the yellow mongrel never lived in the White House because he was afraid of crowds and loud noises. The Lincolns gave Fido to another family before Honest Abe took office, according to the Presidential Pet Museum. (Yes, there is a U.S. Presidential Pet Museum outside of Baltimore that controls the animals of company of each commander-in-chief, which have actually included wildcats, tigers and bears). Read: See the Wildest Presidential Pets Ever. Yuki was technically the first rescue dog to reside in the White House, although Major will in fact be the first shelter dog to join a First Family living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

President Lyndon B. Johnson “singing” with his rescue dog Yuki. Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum / NARA

And this culminates a pretty good year for rescue animals in general in 2020. While the pandemic has taken a huge toll on the lives and livelihoods of Americans, a silver lining has been an increase in the number of animals. of shelter that are adopted or raised (when someone temporarily takes care of a pet until the shelter can find a forever home) as more people spend more time at home during the pandemic. Typically, an estimated 6.5 million dogs and cats enter US animal shelters each year, according to the ASPCA, and approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, including 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats. But this year, many Americans have set out to adopt or raise animals, as many suddenly found themselves working from home, unemployed, or simply spending more time at home to limit the spread of COVID-19. There were reports of shelters like the Twin Cities Humane Society in Minnesota adopting more than 300 animals in a single week in the spring, and King’s Harvest Pet Rescue of Iowa found homes for its 17 dogs and dozens of cats. The Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) received more than 5,000 pet-raising applications in March. At that time, he was able to put 300 foster children into homes. Several new pet owners told MarketWatch at the beginning of the pandemic that they had rescued cats and dogs because sheltering in place gave them the opportunity to bring a shelter animal. And they called their new furry babies “lifesavers” and mental health boosters at an otherwise terrifying time. Read: ‘We needed each other in this crazy mess.’ Is the pandemic a good time to rescue a dog? Lindsay Hamrick, director of shelter outreach and policy engagement for the Humane Society of the United States, told MarketWatch that one week in April 2020 saw an “astronomical” increase of 720% more in pet foster care than the number of foster care registered during the same period of time. in 2019. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a massive increase in adoptions and foster care,” he said. “And the interest has been pretty constant. Shelters and rescues have also taken in far fewer animals this year. ”Katy Hansen, ACC director of communications, said the number of animals they placed in foster care in 2020 was 113% higher than last year. Furthermore, while they were able to host about 6% of the animals that entered their shelters in 2019, last year they welcomed 25% of them. Better yet, almost a third (31%) of the people who raise animals in 2020 have decided to adopt them permanently. “I think people are finding that it’s good to have another heartbeat,” Hansen said. “The silver lining is that it’s been an amazing year for animal shelters and rescues, because a lot of attention has been paid to animals and pets, and what they bring into our lives. “So back to the Bidens and the Major: these rescue organizations believe that Major (who is the darkest German Shepherd with light brown legs, while Champ It is the mostly brown dog cl hoop with dark snout) could be an ambassador for rescue dogs, even if President-elect Biden broke his foot over Thanksgiving weekend while playing with Major. “This performance not only normalizes adoptions, it celebrates it, because the public can see that this is a really beautiful pastor joining the White House,” Hamrick said. “There are so many animals that are waiting for home in the shelters, so to see one of them in the White House surrounded by tons of people and have a really amazing life, sends a message that you can show up at your local shelter and find a healthy, happy dog ​​to take home. ”In fact, Hansen said the ACC has“ two purebred German Shepherds right now that we walk in as dedicated owners. So for people looking for exactly what Biden has, what we have “. Hamrick noted that he has observed a long-term trend over the past decade in which more people are realizing that the perception that adopted dogs have some kind of “problem” is largely a myth. “The vast majority of dogs and cats that end up in shelters end up there because people lose their jobs or can’t find pet-friendly housing,” he said. And these two challenges are something that shelters and rescues are very concerned about heading into 2021, especially after moratoriums on evictions expire, and if the surge in coronavirus cases leads to a second or third wave of closures. to stop the spread, which can lead to more business. closing or firing of employees. Hansen said she has seen the number of owners surrendering their pets to the ACC shelter system has started to increase in recent months. “People are panicking over job losses and the financial impact of COVID, and there has been no other stimulus check,” he said. “Either a lot of people are moving in with their friends and family, and the animals are not welcome, or that house already has a pet. So it’s difficult. “Hamrick says the Humane Society estimates that evictions in early 2021 could displace 10 to 11 million pets, which they estimate based on the number of tenants likely to be evicted when the moratorium is lifted. What’s more, some government-run animal rescue organizations saw their budgets cut last year; New York City animal care centers saw their budget cut by $ 3 million, Hansen said. The leadership team accepted a pay cut to avoid layoffs and Hansen says “the competition for donation dollars is intense.” “We are advocating that elected officials really consider how essential shelter resources are,” Hamrick added. Fortunately, it looks like they could soon. have a key canine advocate in the White House. This article was originally published on November 11, 2020 and has been updated .