A dog can be a political double-edged sword: treat it well and you get lots of good press; treat it shitty and, well, just ask Mitt Romney how that worked out for him. Florida's Republican (and wildly unpopular) Gov. Rick Scott is the latest politician to fall victim to dog-loving media. The Tampa Bay Times reveals that shortly after being elected governor, the Scott family returned a rescue dog they had adopted during the campaign back to its previous owners. Yikes.
The Labrador, pictured above, was adopted shortly after Scott won the Republican primary in 2010. A picture of it was posted to Facebook, asking Scott's fans what the family should name its new pet. The winning name was, shock of all shocks, Reagan (keep in mind this was in the middle of the Tea Party's Reagan-nostalgia, rabble-rousing).
Recently, Florida reporters began to wonder why they hadn't seen First Family of Florida's Beloved Pet recently and started digging. They first reached out to Brian Burgess, who was Gov. Scott's communications director during his campaign:
Late Wednesday, Burgess testily emailed that he was working on an answer and recognized "the potential for a PR nightmare if the Tampa Bay Times doesn't receive a photo of Reagan next to today's copy of the Tampa Bay Times. So take it to the bank I'm getting you every bit of info I can lay my hands on.''
Not satisfied, reporters reached out to Gov. Scott's current communications director, Melissa Sellers, who was somehow even more haughty and self-important:
Sellers responded over two days that she was far too busy to find an answer to the question.
At this point, it must have been pretty clear that Scott's camp had something to hide. A spokesman for Ann Scott said that the family has one dog, named Tallee. So what happened to Reagan? Was he eaten by Burmese pythons? No, it turns out he simply wasn't good enough for the Scotts:
Scott said Reagan never bit anyone but "scared the living daylights'' out of people at the mansion. He said one kitchen employee threatened to quit and photographer Eric Tournay was frightened when the dog "barked like crazy'' every time he saw him with a camera.
The thing is, many will jump to Scott's defense. Anyone who has any experience with rescue dogs knows that they can be difficult and sometimes it's just not a good fit. But did no one spend any time with Reagan before adopting it, or did a campaign aide simply choose the most photogenic pooch at the Pound for Sad Dogs™? Likely the latter. While perhaps Reagan is happy in a new home now, it says a lot about Scott's character that he's the kind of person who's willing to adopt a pet and simply dump it when the dog is no longer politically advantageous.
Have at him, PETA. This one's low-hanging fruit.
[Images via AP and Facebook]