Since the beginning of the Office of the President, presidential pets have played an important role in the life of the President. The Presidential pet has become a symbol in America, and will continue to gain importance in the future.
There are only two Presidents that did not have any kind of a pet in the White House. Millard Fillmore and Chester A. Arthur are the only two Presidents that did not have animals during their Presidency.
Martin Van Buren owned two tiger cubs for a short time while President, so he would qualify as having a Presidential pet. Andrew Johnson, while not actually owning pets, considered the mice that he fed in his room as the President’s mice.
Over the years, the Presidential pet has come to symbolize the humanity that is left in the President. No matter how distant the President appears to be from the people, the Presidential pet is there to be a reminder that the President is an American person just like everyone else.
During the last few Presidencies, Presidents Clinton and Bush used their pets to connect with children in the United States. The both made holiday videos that were shown at schools across the country of them playing with the Presidential pet.
President Bush went a step further and had Christmas specials created that starred his dog Barney. These videos are even fairly popular with people that do not consider themselves to be fans of the current Presidency.
In 1983, President Reagan considered making it a requirement that the President have at least one pet while in office. He believed that a Presidential pet was a great distraction from the everyday life of being the President of the United States. He thought that it was a great stress reliever that every President should have.
Every President since Ford has had at least one threat against the Presidential pet while in office. There have been many strange people that have sent letters to the government threatening to assassinate the Presidential pet. There have been three arrests in the past for these types of threats.
For the most part, it is the responsibility of the Secret Service to protect the Presidential pet. During 9/11, the Presidential pets were taken into hiding in a bunker to keep them safe in case of an attack on the White House.
Presidential pets have become a tradition that many people do not realize that the government has. Even though they are usually kept out of the limelight, the Presidential pet is a symbol of how American the President is in his mind.