Romney dog issue resurfaces

Former Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was criticized for transporting his dog in a rooftop car kennel, but this time it came from his own Republican party.

Shamus gets revenge: An editorial cartoon regarding Romney’s treatment of his dog in 1983. (Comic credit: Dave Granlund)

In an interview with The Washington Post earlier this week, John Brabender, an adviser to Rick Santorum, took a shot at Romney’s and his treatment of the family dog, an Irish Setter named Seamus. Santorum is one of three other candidates competing with Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

“Look, I’ll be honest with you,” Brabender said. “I sit there like every other American and say, ‘What the heck was he thinking, putting the dog on the top of the roof?’”

He also said he I wouldn’t trust criticism of Santorum from “a guy who strapped his dog to the top of the roof of his car and went hurling down the highway.”

The Santorum camp took another shot at Romney yesterday. “Well, you know, the family dog is one [that] resonates with some people,” spokeswoman Alice Stewart said on MSNBC. “If you can’t be nice to your dog, who are you going to be nice to?”

Santorum’s campaign is referring to a 1983 incident where, more than a quarter of a century ago, Romney took his family on a 12-hour road trip from Massachusetts to Ontario. Instead of letting Seamus ride in the car, Romney placed the pup in a rooftop dog kennel. The dog relieved himself in the carrier, shocking passengers when the waste trickled down the back window of the Chevy station wagon.

According to the 2007 Boston Globe article that broke the news, Romney stopped the car at a service station, hosed off the vehicle, and then continued driving.

News of the event was met with condemnation and scorn from various animal-rights and grass-roots movements, and provoked a small demonstration at the Westminster Dog Show in February. It has been referred to as “Romney-Gate” and “Crate-Gate.”

Today is the Illinois primary.