The United States’ 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes, has the distinction – at least until President Trump – of winning the most contentious election in history via the Compromise of 1877. But while Hayes may have won the election in standalone fashion, he was very like other Presidents in one big way: He had a lot of pets.
Hector, a Newfoundland, moved with the family into the White House when Hayes assumed the Presidency. He must have been a relatively well-behaved animal because there is little history recorded about him. Newfoundlands generally stand at roughly 26-28 inches high and can weigh over 150 pounds – these are large dogs. But despite Hector’s size, he seemingly caused little to no problems during the White House stay of President Hayes.
President Hayes and his wife Lucy were both animal lovers so perhaps it is no coincidence that the famous Westminster Kennel Club competition began during the Hayes’ Presidency. In fact, Hayes felt so strongly about ending animal abuse that he made the topic part of his 1878 address to Congress:
“The abuse of animals in transit is widely attracting public attention. A national convention of societies specially interested in the subject has recently met at Baltimore, and the facts developed, both in regard to cruelties to animals and the effect of such cruelties upon the public health, would seem to demand the careful consideration of Congress and the enactment of more efficient laws for the prevention of these abuses.”