Mitt Romney, dog torturer

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’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.”

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38 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. An execrable decision I think

    Then again, Romney has little chance of winning the Republican nomination. His, "Flipper not the Gipper," campaign is floundering and the candidate himself, in my opinion, is starting to appear more of a vanity presentation than a serious contender.

    From a recent Economist article:

  2. Romney

    On the contrary I think the dog torturer will be the Republican nominee. According to a Strategic Vision poll he's up by 6 in Iowa. According to a Suffolk University poll he's up by 4 in New Hampshire. He's still behind in national polls but he's way ahead in fundraising, and I'd be willing to bet he'll do just as well this quarter as he did in the last quarter. The only Republican candidate that I think can beat him is Thompson (although I think any of the top Democrats would beat him in November)

  3. Just curious

    Was that the statute twenty-three years ago?  I find it fascinating that every post fails to mention the VINTAGE of this story.  Sort of like the great-grandfather kerfluffle.

    I also admit to doing the same thing on top of a station wagon in 1975 in Philadephia - although I did not have a cage or protective cord at the time.  And it IS a great deal of fun.  But don't try that at home, kids.  Or sober.

    • Must be a Republican phenomenon

      Does it really matter what the law was 23 years ago?  Just because there may not (or may have) been a law against this, it still seems like something that anyone who is sane, humane or has one tiny bit of compassion or common sense would Know is the wrong thing to do.

      Would he have driven 12 hours with one of his kids strapped up there?  Hmmm, maybe he would. 

      • A Republican phenomenon, indeed.

        I won't bring up Bill Frist and his homegrown practice surgeries on "adopted" cats. I won't, I won't, I won't....!

    • Rubbish.

      The great-grandfather kerfuffle was about someone other than Mitt Romney.  This is about Mitt Romney, when he was a grown man, torturing his dog.  I know you like the guy, PP, but come on -- if this were a Dem, or a Republican you didn't like, you wouldn't care in the least that the story happened a while back.  I mean, come on -- how did the Globe get this story?  Obviously, because Romney gave it to them.  He's proud of what he did -- or, at least, he was, until he saw the public reaction to it.

    • It is likely that...

      ...if the incident occurred 23 years ago, the statute of limitations would have been long past.  But that's not the issue.  The issue is Romney's judgement.

    • It wasn't the great-grandfather who did this to the dog

      The dog story is relevant and is quite different from the polygamy story.

      Mitt does not practice and I feel pretty confident does not believe in polygamy (that is what he says and I am perfectly willing to believe him on this one thing). I think he is the only Republican candidate who actually has only had one wife. He can not and should not be held accountable for something his ancestors did in Mexico years before he was born.

      But it wasn't his great-grandfather who did this to his pet dog.  It was the Presidential Candidate himself - Mitt Romney, not someone else.  It shows something about his character, compassion and judgment.  No wonder he never flinched when he made decisions as governor to make drastic cuts to every human services agency

    • Yeah

      I mean, way back in 1984, who would of thought twice about strapping a dog cage to the top of a car for a twelve hour ride. Even if the dog was shitting himself. No biggy.

      BTW, 12 hours in a car from Boston will get you to say, Raleigh, NC.

      And it must have been fun, I'm sure. Wasn't it GOP apologist Rush who explained that the prisoners being tortured (with dogs!)at Abu Ghraib were having fun, sort of like a Frat Party? Sidesplitting!

      Speaking of Frat boys, here's a real knee slapper about the boy king:

      `We were terrible to animals,' recalled [Bush pal Terry] Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush borne turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. `Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,' Throckmorton said. `Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.'

      Talk about a good time!

    • Oh yeah..

      and we know that Republicans never dig things out of the past to skewer their Democratic opponents with.

      Tell me Peter, just how far back is off limits to go? I'm so eager to find out if the GOP will refrain from draggin things up from the past with regards to Mrs Clinton.  And since 23 years is too long to go back, then surely you objected to the revisting of Mr Kerry's past as well? 

      So, how far back is too far?

    • What does the age of a statute have to do with its viability??

      These are two separate points. I can't help but think you are being deliberately obtuse or are just playing devil's advocate. I have a hard time believing you think this kind of cruelty is justified.

      Animals ride IN cars, not ON them. To keep them from using the car as a restroom, STOP OCCASIONALLY.

      Not only was Romney cruel, he apparently was too stupid to figure that out.

      • Ms. Porc's issue was not the age of the statute... was what the statute was at the time.

        As far as I'm concerned, it's irrelevant, since the statute of limitations is probably long past, and so he would not be prosecuted.  But, as I mentioned below, it does put his judgement into question.

    • Public service

      I think PP provided this comment as a public service just so those of us not done venting about this issue could enjoy another round.

      I'm wondering now whether the dog in 1975 enjoyed his or her trip through Philadelphia. Tell us more!

      • I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

        I didn't have a dog on top of the station wagon.  I rode on top of the station wagon.  With no rope or restraint.

        I believe it was called car surfing.

        • Bad judgment vs being wholly dependent, loving, and having no choice

          Your car surfing was your choice.  Adolescents think they are immortal and all of us have stupid adolescent choices to remember, whether fondly or with chagrin.  I know I do.

          But dogs are 100% loyal, loving, and  totally defenseless and dependent on their human "owners".

          To treat a totally helpless, loving being in this cruel and totally clueless manner is a startlingly narcissistic behavior.

          How we treat those who are helpless, and in need is the true measure of nobility.  For the strong to acquire more means nothing - it is the natural man.  For the strong to lift up the weak - that is noble.

          The most vulnerable in our society were, in my opinion, similarly treated by Gov. Romney.

          The more defenseless, helpless, and dependent, the more likely to suffer cuts.

          The cutting of 50% of the treatment beds [in patient] for addicts comes to mind.

          No wonder under Gov. Romney the cost of incarceration surpassed the money spent by out state on higher education.

          Poor Seamus...

          AmberPaw/Deb Sirotkin Butler

  4. It certainly puts Romney's judgement into question...

    ...has there been any explanation as to why the dog was not welcome in the cabin of the auto?  That's how we transported our family dog when we took him on a trip with us.  Or, failing that, was there no kennel available?

  5. The story is now going national

    The AP just picked it up with the headline: Romney Accused of Mistreating Family Dog.  It would be downright hilarious if this has an impact in the downfall if Mitt's campaign.  It just the kind of story that the nitwit cable shows will talk about and that the general public will latch on.  Move over Paris, here comes Mitt the dog abuser!!!

  6. The surprsing thing to me

    Is the degree to which people can anthropormorphize a dog.

    member of the family, strapping children to the roof, and Scott Lehigh has Seamus the dog doing back of the envelope math problems and worrying about overpasses.  I find this tendency to be a little bizarre.

    Regardless of what the animal cruelty laws said then or now, this is very similar to letting the dog ride in the back of a pickup, which until very recently was very common, and which still is very common in rural parts of the country.

    Why aren't we also concerned about how he treated his kids?  My friend's dad had one of those Caprice wagons, and the back seats had no seat belts. That means they probably had no Britax seats! Sheesh, we went on long rides in almost that same car in the wayback specifically because it was less confining than a seat.  I bet Mitt and Mom weren't wearing seat belts either.

    The lenghths to which this site will go to villify this man, and the use of ominous hyperbole as in the title of the above post often veer off into the land of the absurd.

    I would never vote for Romney again for anything because he pulled a bait and switch and because he is a faker.  I also think that a President Romney would be far less damaging than President Giuliani.

    • The dog shit in its own cage

      Dogs don't do that unless they are under serious distress.

      • My dog was unable to wait in a carpeted van with air conditioning. I guess he was just VERY sensitive.

      • So says PETA, anyway

        Then again, they think I'm a murderer because I had chicken for lunch.

        • Actually, no,

          a dog will not soil its crate unless it is in severe distress.  That's Dog Behavior 101--ever heard of, um, crate training?  Jesus, don't you know anything about dogs?  Sorry to say, but you're sounding a bit loony on this topic given your defense of the Mittmeister and your ignorance of basic dog behavior.  You're getting hammered here--and with good reason.  Get yourself a chicken sandwich and quit while you're still standing.

    • Hyperbole

      The lenghths to which this site will go to villify this man, and the use of ominous hyperbole as in the title of the above post often veer off into the land of the absurd.

      A few months ago, I would have considered it hyperbole if someone on the site argued that Romney was the kind of guy who would doing something mean and stupid like (I don't know) tie his dog to the top of the family car or something.

      Except that now we know it apparently happened. So this is a case where apparent hyperbole is actually reality. It's not a critical piece of Romney's past by any means, but I do think it's unfortunte that there are people defending this type of, frankly, bizarre behavior.

    • Who is anthropomorphizing?

      Dogs aren't people but they do have feelings, and can feel pain and fear. The fact that the dog had to relieve itself while up on the roof of the car is a crystal clear indication that the dog was not enjoying itself.

      Some people might not be very upset about this story, but there are a lot of animal lovers out there who will be thoroughly repulsed by this story regardless of party affiliation. I know that I would never dream of voting for someone who did something like this (not that I would have voted for Romney in any case).

    • You really think so?

      Regardless of what the animal cruelty laws said then or now, this is very similar to letting the dog ride in the back of a pickup

      I've seen a lot of things strapped to the roof of a car, but never a family pet. Never. Unless the animal was dead (a deer or bear), I've never seen one strapped to the roof or hood of a moving vehicle, cage or not.

      Put it another way. I've ridden in the bed of pickups, and driven with dogs in the bed of pickups. But I wouldn't put a person on the top my truck, and I wouldn't put a dog up there either, because it's a fucked up thing to do.

      I would never vote for Romney again for anything because he pulled a bait and switch and because he is a faker. I also think that a President Romney would be far less damaging than President Giuliani.

      Romney is also the guy who said that he wants to "double the size of Guantanamo".

      • Yes, he wants to double Gitmo

        And I still say Rudy is the more dangerous, because he is far more secretive and more authoritarian than Romney.  This made him a great mayor of NYC, which was viewed as ungovernable before then.  It makes him a poor choice to occupy the Presidency, especially after the asserted expansion of power that we have seen since 2002.

        As far as the dog, I'll admit its a little odd, more than a little odd.  But my reading is that the dog was in a kennel, and the kennel was on the roof, with a windscreen.  That isn't all that different from the pickup bed.  Seems more like a goofy 70s dad thing to me, and is obviously how it is remembered by his kid.  So it may be a little odd, but torture?  Please.

        • Romney for Republican Nominee

          After 6ing the previous comment, I began to think about who our choices are for Republican nominee and every single one of them is downright scary. Authoritarian Giuliani is very dangerous after the Cheney-Bush Administration. McCain is very eager to let loose bombers. There are social conservatives running who will turn America into something it shouldn't be.

          In this crowd of people with thoroughly bad principles, Romney has the distinct and winning recommendation of having no principles.

  7. Creepiest Story Ever

    This is just as bad as those stories of frakked up parents putting kids in the trunk for long journies.

    I wouldn't vote for anyone who did anything like this. It's anathema to any modicum of decency.

    • But hey,

      you gotta admit that it was damned EFFICIENT of him!

      Expediency over humanity. Yeah, sounds about right. That's our Mittens!

  8. Mitt's opinion yesterday

    "...PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air."

    That's his response yesterday, not 25 years ago.  What a first class asshole.

    • Mittens' coat of arms must read,

      "Never apologize, never explain."

    • wow, you mean

      he didn't flip flop and decide that now that he thinks he values all life, he wishes he had treated his dog more humanely?  perhaps we've stumbled onto the only subject for which willard toes the unchanging line: the right to abuse your pet.

    • Well...

      if you were that dog, maybe you'd rather be on the roof than stuck inside listening to the Osmands for 12 hours.

  9. As if I needed another reason... dislike Mitt Romney.  He's cruel to dogs, too.  This takes the cake.

  10. Photo of Romney Driving Dog To Canada Unearthed

    As luck would have it, I've come across this extremely authentic-appearing photograph of the Romney dog debacle, and posted it here: http://thattherepaul...

  11. Agreed, bad judgment ...

    ... but not nearly as bad as that shown by a previous Romney opponent in transporting another person in a car, driving the car off a bridge, leaving the scene while the passenger drowned and not reporting the accident for nine hours. Granted, this was only a human fatality, not a dog rendered incontinent by fright.

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Fri 28 Apr 9:34 PM