When writing their official biographies, it happens with disturbing regularity that candidates mention their pets by name but neglect to mention their children by name. The first few times I saw this, I was shocked. Now, it's something I specifically look for when helping candidates write their bios.
"An animal lover, _______ rescued and adopted two kittens, Christina and Teena-Marie...He also has two children."
"A father of two boys... _____ rescued his best friend Flynn, a Rhodesian Ridgeback from a nearby shelter."
"She loves her best buddy, Fluffy." (no mention of the 3 school age children)
Candidates usually go through the same thought process. "I don't want to expose my kids to the nastiness of campaigns," followed by "People like animals so they will like me if I show I like animals."These are both perfectly acceptable rationalizations. People do like animals (sometimes even more than children,) and your children MIGHT be brought into the campaign.
Most candidates have no issue with mentioning their children by name. Unless your children are grown and out of the house, mentioning them by name and an interest or hobby of theirs usually makes you look like a friendlier, more well-rounded person, one who cares about children, both their own and others. If you are concerned that your children may get unwanted attention from the press or at school, it is perfectly acceptable to not mention their names. You must however acknowledge their existence. It looks bad if you have children but don't mention them, and opens the door for reporters to ask you why you didn't include your children in your biography.
People love animals. I once had a State Senate candidate who held a Jack Russell Terrier during a televised press conference. Knocking on doors later that day, a voter said "I saw her on TV with a puppy. We're dog lovers ourselves. She's got my vote." The voter had no idea what the press conference had been about.
Rescuing animals from shelters, having pets in certain campaign photographs or mentioning them in your biography shows that you like animals and will gain you some support. If however, you choose to not mention your children by name as a means to protect them from the campaign, you MUST NOT mention your pets by name. "When she is not saving lives, she loves spending time with her two daughters, age 12 and 7, and her Labradoodle."
Just to reiterate and to help you avoid embarrassment:
It's fine to mention both your kids and pets by name.
It's fine to mention your kids by name but not your pets.
It's fine to mention both your kids and pets, but not mention any names.
It is NEVER alright to mention your pets by name but not your kids.