Who Has Your Vote? – 10 Presidential Pet Facts

Bo, President's Obama's dog, sitting in front of the White HouseThe most powerful leader in the free world has many responsibilities. The President of the United States tends to many tasks: writing policy and discussing legislation, signing bills into law, and working with other nations for the benefit of both countries’ people. Most presidents and their families also take on the added responsibility of housing and caring for animals. Many of the pets were companions and farm animals from the president’s previous residence. So let’s take a look at some of the unique critters and happenings with animals in the White House.

  • John Quincy Adams received a pet alligator from a French friend! The gator lived in the East Room bathroom, but two months later Adams returned the gift. This was not the last White House resident to have such a reptile, as Herbert Hoover’s son had two alligators!
  • America’s 7th president, Andrew Jackson, had a parrot named Poll, who had a penchant for expletives. When Jackson died in office, the parrot had to be removed from the funeral, because he wouldn’t stop swearing.
  • In 1863, Tad Lincoln became friends with the turkey intended for Thanksgiving meal. He begged his father, and Abraham Lincoln pardoned Jack the Turkey from that fate. He lived the rest of his days on the White House grounds.
  • Andrew Johnson had a tough time during his impeachment proceedings in 1868. He befriended mice in his bedroom during this time, and he fed them biscuits.
  • Rutherford Hayes had the first Siamese cat in the United States; she was named Siam.
  • James A. Garfield had a dog named Veto. Though Garfield never vetoed a bill in office, as he was there for only four months before he was assassinated.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was a larger-than-life man, and he kept pets in the same manner. Over 40 pets were in the White House during his term. Some of the notable ones are a macaw parrot, a pony, a one-legged rooster, guinea pigs, and bears!
  • Dogs are by far a popular pet choice. 31 of the 44 presidents had canines, and all presidents since 1989 have had a dog in the White House.
  • John F. Kennedy was the first president to have hamsters in the White House. Their names were Debbie and Billie.
  • Gerald Ford took his rescue dog Liberty out for a late night bathroom break. He forgot to tell the Secret Service, and they were locked out of the White House. President Ford banged on a stairwell door until some of the staff heard and let them back in.

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