Opinion: Dogs to Mitt: We are not luggage!


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Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has critics in all corners, and his furry ones came out -- accompanied by their people -- to protest Tuesday. About a dozen humans and a few dogs turned out at a demonstration, organized by supporters of the Dogs Against Romney website, outside the Madison Square Garden site of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. The demonstration had nothing to do with the show and everything to do with the now infamous story of Romney’s 1983 summer family vacation.

Romney and his wife loaded their sons and luggage in their Chevy station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Romney’s parents’ cottage on Lake Huron in Canada. They took the family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, in a dog carrier, attached to the roof of the car. According to the Boston Globe, where this incident was reported in a 2007 series on the candidate, Romney did build a windshield for the carrier. At one point, when it was obvious the dog had gone to the bathroom in the carrier, Romney stopped the car at a gas station and hosed off the dog.


The story, which became known among dog lovers as Crate-Gate, has drawn howls of criticism since it was first reported and spawned a website, a Facebook page and the slogans ‘Dogs are not luggage’ and ‘I Ride Inside.’ No doubt the pampered show dogs inside the Garden would have given the protesters outside a paws-up on those sentiments.

In California, it’s against the law to tether a dog unless its owner is doing ‘a temporary task,’ or to keep a dog unsecured in an open pickup or to let it die of heat stroke in an overheated car. It’s difficult to find a law spelling out whether your dog can travel in a kennel on top of a car, maybe because it’s so obviously a bad idea for the dog.

The American Kennel Club has a long list of tips for transporting a dog safely by car. All involve crating or securing the dog. AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson tells us, ‘We believe the safest place is inside the car in a crate.’ The operative word here is inside the car. We pass this tip along to Romney in case he decides to take a dog on the campaign trail.


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--Carla Hall