WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama family may be a couple months away from calling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue their home, but dog advocates are already trying to capitalize on the soon-to-be first family's search for a four-legged friend to join them in the White House.
The American Humane Association, in conjunction with 20th Century Fox's upcoming comedy "Marley & Me," kicked off an animal adoption campaign Wednesday in the nation's capital to raise awareness about the seven million animals that AHA says end up in the shelter system each year.
"We're really hoping to change people's perception of where they need to go to get a dog - especially if they want a pure bred dog - and go to a shelter and rescue a dog that doesn't have a home," said AHA animal safety representative Sandi Buck.
Organizers placed dozens of dogs from local rescue organizations near the White House. The dogs sported bright orange "Adopt Me" jackets as part of the campaign. The tour will hit 16 cities, ending in Los Angeles on December 25 for the opening of "Marley & Me." The movie's title character, Marley, is himself an adopted dog.
Getting a dog is a priority for President-elect Barack Obama. In his speech last week in Chicago after being elected, Obama said his daughters had "earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."
A prerequisites for the future first dog: it must be hypoallergenic, which is a breed that is safer for people with allergies. Obama has also said the family prefers a shelter dog.
"There are actually around 15 different breeds that are hypoallergenic so they have quite a range to choose from," said Buck. "They can go online and they can find a local breed rescue and go from there."
In his first press conference since being elected, Obama said he thought the puppy question had generated more interest than almost any other topic on his Web site.