The dog that cornered Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid thatled to the terrorist’s death may be “beautiful” and “talented” — so saidPresident Donald Trump — but an expert warns against running to a nearbykennel looking for the new family pet.
“These dogs are too much for most people,” Irene Howcroft, owner of RuidosoMalinois, a kennel in New Mexico that specializes in the Belgian Malinoisbreed and provides many to law enforcement officials, told ABC News onThursday.
“But people want the new cool new ‘it’ dog,” she added. “Malinois have becomethe cool new ‘it’ dog.”(MORE: What we know about the military dog injured inthe al-Baghdadi raid)
In the four days since Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s death, and gave highpraise to the dog named “Conan,” calls inquiring about the breed haveskyrocketed, according to Howcroft.
“I have received about a thousand contacts through email, phone calls, ortext,” Howcroft said. “I usually get, I would say, about probably 1,500 to2,000 contacts a month. I’m still getting a lot more.”
Yet she thinks the spike in interest could be detrimental to the breed, addingshe’s “profoundly distressed.”
Howcroft has been training Malinois for 15 years and knows the extensive levelof care that goes into raising them.
“People think, ‘This will be a fun dog to have,’ and it will, but only if youare the right family or person,” she said.(MORE: Trump invites ‘hero’ dog fromal-Baghdadi raid to White House )
Malinois require active engagement both physically and mentally, according tothe American Kennel Club.
“This is not a dog who can be left in the backyard, and daily walks are notenough, either,” according to AKC’s website. “Exercise, and plenty of it,preferably side by side with his owner, is paramount to the breed’shappiness.”
Howcroft said that the people who have reached out, both interested owners andother breeders, have done little to no research.(MORE: Trump tweets fake imageof him putting medal around dog from al-Baghdadi raid)
“I say, ‘Tell me about your fencing. Are there other dogs in the household?What are your training goals for this dog?’ Then I can tell very quicklyyou’re not suitable, just with those questions,” she said.
She fears that Malinois’ newfound popularity will lead to unprepared owners ininsufficient homes and a spike in unhealthy breeding to meet demands.
“The well-being of their life, they trust me for that, and I take thatextremely seriously,” she said.
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