June 29th, 2007
05:39 PM ET
12 years ago

Romney: Dog 'enjoyed' riding on car roof

Romney is taking heat for the way he transported his dog on family trips.

(CNN) - Under fire from a leading animal rights group, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defended the family dog's mode of transportation to a 1983 summer vacation.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the Republican presidential hopeful after The Boston Globe reported that Romney transported his dog in a rooftop carrier when the family drove from Boston to Ontario.

"If you wouldn’t strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog," Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA said in a statement. "I don’t know who would find that acceptable."

The article noted that Romney had built a wind shield carrier to make the ride more comfortable for the family's Irish Setter.

But on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania Thursday, Romney defended his chosen mode of transportation for the family dog.

"He scrambled up there every time we went on trips, got in all by himself and enjoyed it," Romney said of the Irish Setter.

Romney also conceded any endorsement of his candidacy by the group was unlikely.

"PETA has not been my fan over the years. PETA was after me for having a rodeo at the Olympics," he said in reference to his role as chief executive of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. "PETA was unhappy when I went quail hunting in Georgia, and they're not happy that my dog likes fresh air."

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (357 Responses)
  1. Katarina, New York City, NY

    "I hate PETA and I hate my wife, who is a PETA member. PETA could actually do good if they did not make a big stink out of non-issues like this one. I’m going to KFC today just to spite these people."

    Wow. Just wow.

    June 29, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Paul, NYC

    While not a fan of PETA, his action clearly places the dog in harm's way. A short stop could send the animal flying into the front of his "cage" and could even detach the cage from the vehicle. He should get a summons.

    June 29, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Sam G., Baltimore, MD

    This story isn't about PETA folks. This is about a man who wants to run this country - look at how he runs his family vacations. PETA didn't bring up this story, Mitsy offered this info up himself to a reporter. Certainly PETA has a right to comment on it. As would the SPCA or, gee, anyone who has an opinion about it.

    And I'm sorry, having the dog camped out on top of a vehicle on a 20+ hour trip is FAR different from a dog hanging out in the back of a pick-up truck. Seriously, do you really think that's the same? How safe would you feel on top of a vehicle for 5 miles at 65 MPH vs. in the back of a pick up. Most sane people would opt for the back of the truck.

    It was cruel. It shows a lack of good judgment and reasonableness. And it shows a lack of intelligence to volunteer this information to a reported 20 years later.

    June 29, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. LooseMarbles

    Hey, you’re the ones who killed 600,000 in the Middle East (so far).
    – Mike, Chicago

    Haven't heard of anyone killing 600,000 dogs or fetus' in the ME. What are you talking about??

    June 29, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Christine, Indianapolis IN

    I would love to have that design – my dog loves to smell the world.

    June 29, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Kyle - Memphis, TN

    Did PETA complain about Eddie Murphy transporting an animal on the roof during the movie Dr. Doolittle? My dog still likes to put his head out the window when we drive.

    PETA just wants some media attention and they found a forum to finally get some attention from our other favorite organization, ACLU.

    Next we'll hear that they want to have the Discovery Channel cancel Deadliest Catch because they are capturing Lobsters in traps. Come to think about it, do you have to be a vegetarian to work for PETA?

    June 29, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Jennifer, Chicago, IL

    Romney's reasoning of "my dog enjoyed it so I not only let him do it, but encouraged it" is CRAZY. By that same logic, I wish I'd Mitt as my dad when I was a teenager and discovered sex. I enjoyed it, but my parents did everything in their power to discourage it (and did so successfull). Maybe Mitt would have put me on the Pill and built a beautiful bed for my boyfriend and me.

    June 29, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Paul, Stevens Point WI

    For Christ's sake who cares, it’s a dog. These creatures were bread to be guards, hunters and work animals. Any animal we domesticate is lucky enough it gets feed and watered with out having to find it for its self. Further more it his dog, he can do whatever he wants with it. Strap it on the roof or give it a kick when he gets home. You don't clean up its crap or feed it, he does. Besides it was in 1983, the dog is dead now anyway.

    June 29, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Mork

    unvarished? You bet. If you knew everything you said was being recorded you would choose your words very carefully. Now, if someone can record Hillary without her knowing it, that would be unvarished.

    June 29, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Lauren, Seattle, WA

    Good grief. People ride in convertibles with the wind in their hair. Why is it so hard to believe that a dog would enjoy it?

    June 29, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Joe, Millville, NJ

    Yeah, we killed 600,000 in the middle east after the liberal flip floppers voted for it..

    June 29, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Greg, Oceanside CA

    How is this inhumane? It's not dangerous, the carrier was securely strapped to the car. He put up a windscreen so he wasn't getting a full blast of air. It's not like he tied the dog up there by its paws. And you people who imply that because he would do this to a dog, then he would do it to a human, you people are insane. First off, it's not a bad thing he did, he wasn't harming the dog. Second, it's a @&%^ing dog, not a person. I think this is a rather genius mode for dog transport.
    If you agree with PETA on this matter, you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

    June 29, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Spencer, Minneapolis, MN

    I expect this type of inconsequential garbage from PETA...
    but for this to be a front page headline on CNN for 2 days in a row is ridiculous! CNN, please focus on meaningful issues instead of searching for mud to sling!

    June 29, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Lisa, Austin TX

    We have an Irish Setter who we one time left in the car with the sunroof open while we ran inside to retrieve something.

    When I came back out, our goofy dog was sitting on the roof of the car, looking at us. She is also fond of having her head out the window at all times, a trait almost universally embraced by all canines. While I am not a Romney supporter, I absolutely believe that the dog loved it up there, and as long as he had a wind shield I think he probably loved nothing more.

    June 29, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |


    June 29, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Gretchen, D.C.

    I vote for strapping Romney to the roof of his car and riding around for 12 hours in all kinds of weather. Maybe it will clean out his sinuses and brains. Or maybe he could strap his kids up there! He's an idiot.

    June 29, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Rick, Dallas TX

    While the whole abuse side of the dog story is undoubtedly sickening, there is another side that is just as troubling. This whole anecdote is so that the Boston Globe can fawn over him and praise him for "emotion-free crisis management", but here is what I see:

    1.) Romney comes up with a plan. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that this is a BAD PLAN.
    2.) Plan takes a dump, (literally).
    3.) Romney cleans up the immediate mess a little and forges on, undeterred, with the SAME BAD PLAN.

    Does this sound familiar? Haven’t we had enough of the “stay the course” mentality? Additionally, should we praise him for managing a crisis that was created by his own stupidity? Rather than managing a crisis, wouldn’t it be preferable to engage in a little forethought and prevent the crisis from arising in the first place?

    June 29, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Ruth San Antonio, TEXass

    Romney is an idiot and will never get my vote. As rich as he is why didn't he think of spending some money to do something safer for his dog like paying someone to take care of it. Anyone who would tie their dog to the roof of their car is a straight up IDIOT. We already have 2 IDIOTS that are running the country and they shoot quails.....don't they......?????

    June 29, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. J A Wagner, Winner, SD

    PLEASE!! Do we need to worry about a 1980s family vacation!! PETA, GET A LIFE!! We have so many abused children and elderly adults in our society that need our attention. Instead of worrying about what happened to a dog (who apparently enjoyed the experience), perhaps you should check on other more current issues.

    June 29, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Steve, Boston, MA

    I don't know how anyone can be concerned about this, or even consider for a moment that it deserves any level of news reporting. I thought the 24×7 coverage of Paris Hilton was bad enough, but this arguing about whether or not some family dog - no doubt long since dead of old age - enjoyed riding on a car roof... it's bizarre.

    What exactly are we supposed to worry about here? That Mitt Romney may decide to strap some dogs on top of Air Force One?? And we, the voters of the USA, are supposed to decide elections based on this kind of information???

    June 29, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Ralph Tobias, Scottsville, VA

    What a non-issue this is! He built a wind shield to protect the dog from the wind, for heaven's sake! Sounds like someone from PETA didn't get the whole story before being critical. Next thing you know they're going to come out against people allowing their dogs to stick their heads out of car windows. If this is the worst thing anybody can drudge up on Romney, elect this guy president...quick!

    June 29, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Todd Kelley, Denver, Colorado

    PETA's stink over this is a ringing endorsement for Romney 🙂

    June 29, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Rebecca, Bedminster, NJ

    Anyone who can't see the difference between riding for an hour in the back of a pickup in a rural area (which is still hazardous to your pet), compared to riding on the top of a car for 12 hours on a highway ought to try it sometime. There's a reason people don't travel that way, no matter how ignorant.

    Romney should have accepted responsibility for an action he would not repeat today. But apparently, and sadly for his pets, it sounds as if he'd do it again and again – only with the dog in diapers.

    I hope to see him on the top of his SUV sometime soon. Why deny himself such pleasure?

    June 29, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Is he psychic? How does he know what the dog likes? Very strange comment.

    June 29, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Suzanne Shelton Chicago IL

    These comments make me wonder: If PETA wasn't referenced in this article as objecting would you still think it was an OK thing to do? Would you feel differently if it was the Humane Society objecting? How about the local animal control officer?

    Just look at it objectively and think what it would be like for any living thing to be in a box moving really fast with tons of wind noise, truck noises, and the vibrations of the moving car. You are up there alone without your people to reassure you that it is ok. If you know dogs you can imagine how hard that would be.

    Strikes me as being a terrifying experience and a pretty insensitive thing for a pet owner to do. And it tells me a lot about the candidate.
    Thumbs down.

    June 29, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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