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Of Seamus & our Prez-eat-dog world
By Dr. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, West Hollywood
Diorama of the Romney family on vacation. Image from Seamusthedog.com.
Talk about a presidential campaign going to the dogs.
Anyone who has read President Barack Obama's autobiography will recall his telling about eating all manner of creature while in Indonesia, and you’ve all heard the story of Seamus since one of the Romney sons told it to the Boston Globe five years ago to “humanize” his father, Mitt.
In 1983, a 36-year-old Mitt Romney, his wife and five young boys piled into the family station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Lake Huron in Canada.
As was the family custom, Seamus, their Irish setter, rode in a crate strapped to the top of the car.
A New York street mural of the Romney family on vacation.
Having worked in clinical veterinary practice for over twenty years, I have seen innumerable examples of dogs and cats reacting in a manner exemplifying their perception of the creatures with whom they interact.
From a dog wagging its tail to indicate willingness to engage to a cat hissing at an offending circumstance, a variety of physical manifestations exemplify our pets’ biological response to their environment.
Our pets are a great judge of character. If my dog Cardiff gives any signals that a particular person’s presence or behavior is off-putting, we maintain our distance and keep our guard up.
So, I wonder how Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus felt about his "master" while being transported in a carrier on the roof of the family car over the span of a twelve hour road trip.
Instead of being properly kept inside the car, Seamus was banished to the roof while the Romneys drove from Massachusetts to Ontario, BC, in June 1983.
Despite the wind-shield that was apparently incorporated into the crate’s structure, Seamus was likely exposed to loud sounds associated with the wind, the Romney’s car, and other vehicles.
Additionally, other environmental stressors, including heat and humidity (it was summer in New England, after all), would create an anxiety laden environment for Seamus.
The physical and emotional trauma created by Seamus’s experience caused him to lose control of his bowels, prompting Romney to stop at a gas station to clean off the car, the carrier, and his distressed pooch.
Dog meat remains a part of the diet for Indonesians and people in Southeast Asia. It costs about $3.50 a pound in Vietnam.
Unfortunately, Romney did not recognize the adverse effects his chosen canine transportation was having on Seamus; he returned him to the rooftop crate for the remainder of the drive.
This is an experience that no living creature should be subjected to, as Ingrid Newkirk, president and cofounder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said when she denounced Romney, which elicited his declaration that "[his] dog likes fresh air."
Seemingly, Romney still does not see Seamus’s transportation as being improper.
In April 2012, during an ABC News interview, Diane Sawyer inquired about the Seamus incident and if Romney would ever do it again, to which Romney answered, "Certainly not with the attention it's received."
Actually, in Massachusetts (Romney’s gubernatorial state) it is illegal to transport your pet in a way that is cruel or unsafe.
"whoever … carries [an animal] or causes it to be carried in or upon a vehicle… in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner… shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison…”
The maximum jail time is five years.
As an advocate of animal health and wellness, I’m offended by Mitt’s improper transport of Seamus.
I’m pleased to learn of others striving to keep this issue under the media spotlight. Devo, of "Whip It" fame, released a single titled "Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Seamus Unleashed)" in 2012.
Additionally, the movement of Dogs Against Romney helps to generate animal welfare awareness. Scott Crider, founder of Dogs Against Romney, is furthering public interest by promoting an itunes app, The Crate Escape: Seamus Unleashed through his group's Facebook page.
Recent debate comments by GOP candidate for President Mitt Romney have led to innumerable image jokes. This one comes from dogsagainstromney.com.
Mr. Crider says that "in addition to [the app] being fun and hilarious, it raises awareness about a shocking incident of animal cruelty."
To be fair, President Barack Obama has his own doggy cross to bear, having admitted to eating dog meat while a child in Indonesia.
In a passage of his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” he writes about his relationship with his step-father, Lolo Soetoro, and how the animist’s eating habits opened new vistas for him.
“With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chili peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy).
“Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the more ancient animist and Hindu faiths.
“He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.
“That’s how things were, one long adventure, the bounty of a young boy’s life. ...
Dog meat remains a part of the diet for Indonesians and people in Southeast Asia.
It costs about $3.50 a pound in Vietnam.
So, will Mitt Romney’s less than humane treatment of his canine companion, or the fact that the incumbent president’s step-dad fed him dog when he was a boy affect how people will vote this election?
While no pollster seems to have asked about President Obama’s childhood diet, Mitt Romney might see a handful of voters turn away.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) determined that inhumane treatment of Seamus would cause 35 percent of voters to be less likely to vote for Romney.
Regardless of political affiliation, the general consensus is that transporting a pet as Romney did is inhumane.
PPP reports this finding among 74 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Independents, and 63 percent of Republicans. Apparently PPP failed to ask the canine world, but I’m guessing they pretty much would vote unanimously against Mr. Romney.
Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA founded California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness (CPAW) Inc. CPAW Inc. offers conventional Western and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine on a house call basis. See him PatrickMahaney.com.