The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar appointed his trusted aide Brian Harrison to lead his agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19, despite his total lack of experience. Within the administration, Harrison is derisively referred to as "the dog breeder."
Who needs The Onion with an administration such as this?
Two years later, at the dawn of the coronavirus crisis, Azar appointed his most trusted aide and chief of staff, Harrison, as HHS’s main coordinator for the government’s response to the virus.
Harrison, 37, was an unusual choice, with no formal education in public health, management, or medicine and with only limited experience in the fields. In 2006, he joined HHS in a one-year stint as a “Confidential Assistant” to Azar, who was then deputy secretary. He also had posts working for Vice President Dick Cheney, the Department of Defense and a Washington public relations company.
Before joining the Trump Administration in January 2018, Harrison’s official HHS biography says, he “ran a small business in Texas.” The biography does not disclose the name or nature of that business, but his personal financial disclosure forms show that from 2012 until 2018 he ran a company called Dallas Labradoodles.
The company sells Australian Labradoodles, a breed that is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. He sold it in April 2018, his financial disclosure form said. HHS emailed Reuters that the sales price was $225,000.
A perhaps telling choice, as the explosion of popularity for this relatively new breed has created an industry often frequented by unscrupulous characters out to make a fast buck, just like in the Trump administration itself. As the Australian originator of the breed, Wally Conron, said in an interview last year.
“I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein’s monster,” said Conron, a former breeding manager with the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia.
Conron said he fears people are over-breeding the dog, creating versions of their own including groodles (a mixture of golden retrievers and poodles) and spoodles (a cross between a spaniel and a poodle).
“I find that the biggest majority are either crazy or have a hereditary problem,” he said. “I do see some damn nice Labradoodles but they’re few and far between.”