PuppyGate: PETA comes for AOC… and her little dog, too


It’s tough being an attention-seeking freshman lawmaker, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez is finding out. This week two negative stories about her made headlines.

AOC is feeling the wrath of some of her fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives because she isn’t paying dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She is doing her own thing, not following traditional party guidelines on fundraising, and that should not be a surprise to anyone. AOC isn’t a team player – just ask Speaker Pelosi.

Sandy from the Bronx is, however, taking the advice of Harry S. Truman. Truman famously said, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” So, she did. She made an announcement on Instagram (where else?) that she is the proud owner of a French Bulldog. People love puppies so the response was mostly positive. Will she bring the dog to work? That was one of the questions from a supporter.

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This little pup is being raised by a socialist, so now it is the people’s pup – “a community pup”. It takes a village, you know. She wants to subject the little dog to town hall meetings. Now that’s cruelty. The puppy looks like a purebred French Bulldog but AOC never claimed as much. She also didn’t specifically say where the dog came from. It didn’t take long for PETA to weigh in. The animal rights organization is not pleased with AOC’s choice. She should have chosen a rescue dog from an animal shelter instead of a purebred dog, they say. This assumes that the dog is a purebred and that it didn’t come from a shelter.

The full letter to AOC didn’t pull any punches. Also, PETA is against crate training and didn’t appreciate AOC talking about the puppy being put in one overnight. They sent along a book to explain their objections to her.

On Wednesday, she posted on her Instgram story about her pup’s “hard” first night at home.

“it’s their first night away, with all new people, in an all-new place. The humans are happy but the pup can be sad or scared,” she wrote.

She continued: “Our pup (who shall be named) became very attached to us on the rid home, and would whimper every time I went to bed for longer than 10-15 minutes. So I spent the night next to his crate, and he didn’t whimper again. We won’t make it a habit, but the first night or two is usually an exception. The good news is that he really enjoys his crate! He’s made it his own little bedroom, moves the blankets around, and goes there to hang out on his own.”

She also posted about the ups and downs of house-training her French bulldog: “He’d much rather stay in where it’s warm and dry! But he’s improving quickly,” she wrote on her Story on Wednesday.

The full letter from PETA goes into detail about the physical consequences of breeding purebred dogs and speaks to the thousands of homeless dogs waiting for homes.

We really couldn’t believe our eyes, because you are a role model for how to live, so we understand that you just didn’t realize what you were doing in this case—you couldn’t have. With the millions of homeless dogs out there, you apparently chose to buy a purebred puppy instead of adopting one from an animal shelter. Right this minute, on Petfinder alone, there are more than 110,000 dogs—including French bulldogs—who need homes. Animal shelters are bursting at the seams with hundreds of thousands more, many of whom will be “put to sleep” for lack of a home.

French bulldogs are inbred in order to produce “breed-specific traits,” which cause health problems that many people who will be influenced by your purchase won’t be able to afford to address. They are particularly at risk because their “cute” features plague them with a lifetime of breathing problems (you may have seen the media uproar this week after a disturbing photo of a pug’s MRI went viral), ear and eye infections, skin irritation, a weak stomach, and other issues—all “man-made.”

I don’t have an argument with any of that. It’s all true. Lots of people want specific breeds, though, and in a perfect world the dogs would be purebreeds in need of homes from an animal shelter. Some rescue shelters even specialize in specific breeds – German Shepherd rescue facilities, for example. I’m biased – we rescue animals in my family, we don’t purchase them from breeders or pet shops.

PETA wants AOC to use her huge presence on social media to promote shelter adoptions. She has 6.1M followers on Twitter and 4.1M followers on Instagram. She could influence a lot of people. PETA does, rightly, say that purebred dogs are found at animal shelters. PETA just assumes hers didn’t come from one.

Now, though, that puppy needs a name. She’s asking for suggestions. Let’s hope she doesn’t choose a “social good related” one. Oh brother.

“He doesn’t have a name yet!” she wrote in a later Instagram Story update, asking for suggestions from her followers. “We are thinking something Star Trek related or Bronx/Queens/NYC/social good related.”

PETA is known for strong stances. Whether it is over a street name that references fried chicken, or bringing live animals on television talk shows, PETA makes their opinion clear.

The important part of the story is that a puppy who needed a home has received one. That’s a good thing.

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