Lots of people have already chimed in on the Globe’s story of Mitt Romney’s horrifying decision to strap Seamus, the family dog, to the top of the car for a long, long 12-hour drive. Potroast noted it first here; Adam Reilly’s and Ana Marie Cox’s take are also well worth reading. Cox has been merciless (rather as Romney was) — she’s posted at least three items on Time.com’s “Swampland” blog, as well as one that (I think) will appear in Time magazine rather than just on the blog. Cox also went to the trouble of digging up the MA animal cruelty statute, and requesting comment from animal rights groups. Here’s some of what she found:
Massachusetts’s animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal “in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon.” An officer for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded to a description of the situation saying “it’s definitely something I’d want to check out.” The officer, Nadia Branca, declined to give a definitive opinion on whether Romney broke the law but did note that it’s against state law to have a dog in an open bed of a pick-up truck, and “if the dog was being carried in a way that endangers it, that would be illegal.” And while it appears that the statute of limitations has probably passed, Stacey Wolf, attorney and legislative director for the ASPCA, said “even if it turns out to not be against the law at the time, in the district, we’d hope that people would use common sense…Any manner of transporting a dog that places the animal in serious danger is something that we’d think is inappropriate…I can’t speak to the accuracy of the case, but it raises concerns about the judgment used in this particular situation.”
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was less circumspect. PETA does not have a position on Romney’s candidacy per se, but Newkirk called the incident “a lesson in cruelty that was … wrong for [his children] to witness…Thinking of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that any dog who’s under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured.” Romney, of course, has expressed support for the use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques when it comes to terrorists; his campaign refused to comment about the treatment of his dog.
Today, Scot Lehigh chimes in with some additional observations.
[W]ho, really, can blame Seamus [for crapping all over the car], riding up there alone and forgotten, eyeing each approaching overpass and anxiously wondering if Mitt had calculated the clearances correctly, while the rest of the Romneys were safely ensconced in the vehicle below, no doubt whiling away the hours with joyous renditions of “This land is your land, this land is my land”?
I’m not a dog owner, so I can’t say with certainty what the right answer would have been here, but somehow I suspect that if the question of what to do with Seamus was presented as a Harvard Business School case study, the remedy Mitt arrived at would not be widely seized upon as the most intelligent choice.
Well, I am a dog owner, and I can say with certainty that strapping your dog to the roof of the car for a 12-hour drive, windshield or no windshield, is, well, nuts. It also strikes me as classic Romney: it solves a problem efficiently, in a business-like manner, and with no regard whatsoever for the suffering that the solution may cause. Cox aptly points out in today’s Swampland entry:
Yesterday, Mitt told Pittsburgh reporters that Seamus the Setter “loved” his 12 hour open-air thrill ride on top of the family station wagon and that he “liked fresh air.” If all the Romneys express their love for fresh air the same way as Seamus, I think his administration might have a more immediate environmental pollution problem than global warming on its, uhm, hands.
Also this explains why the Gov has no problem with waterboarding, no matter if the detainees react in a similar Seamus-ian way. It’s like a refreshing swim!
Romney’s utter obliviousness to the suffering of his dog and his corresponding enthusiasm for torturing detainees are indeed unsettling. As someone who knows Romney well once said to me, “ice runs in those veins.”