Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump praised drug-detecting dogs at the US-Mexico border at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit Wednesday, calling working canines "the greatest equipment in the world."
Trump calls working dogs 'the greatest equipment in the world'
"Dogs, a certain type of German Shepherd in particular, dogs do a better job than $400 million worth of equipment. Can you believe that? Only the dog lovers would understand that, right?" Trump told the crowd.
Trump said that during a briefing from Border Patrol, he asked how $500 million of equipment at ports of entry compared to working dogs.
"They said, 'Sir, honestly, the dogs are better.' I said, 'You gotta be kidding.' It's incredible," Trump said. "We also have a lot of dogs and they're great dogs and we cherish them."
The Trump family has broken with tradition -- by not having a pet at the White House -- making them the first pet-free first family since before Thomas Jefferson, who kept a mockingbird and a couple of bear cubs.
President Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep and a ram on the White House lawn, and President William Taft had a Holstein cow, Pauline Wayne, who later retired to Wisconsin, according to the Historical Society of Washington. First lady Grace Coolidge had a pet raccoon, Rebecca, whom she walked on a leash on the South Lawn. Coolidge also adopted an opossum.
Trump lived with a poodle, Chappy, with his first wife, Ivana, who wrote in her memoir, "Raising Trump," that "Donald was not a dog fan."
"When I told him I was bringing Chappy with me to New York, he said, 'No,'" she wrote. "'It's me and Chappy or no one!' I insisted, and that was that."
Chappy, she later said, "had an equal dislike of Donald."
Trump floated the idea of getting a dog during a campaign rally earlier this year in El Paso, Texas.
"I wouldn't mind having one," the notoriously pet-averse Trump said.
"How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn sort of not -- I don't know, I don't feel good, feels a little phony to me," Trump said.
He added that people have asked and told him it's "good politically" to have a dog, but "that's not the relationship I have with my people."