A rescue dog that was adopted by Flordia Gov. Rick Scott (R) as part of his campaign was later returned to its previous owners. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Labrador retriever was quietly surrendered by Florida’s first family when he proved to be unsuited to life in the governor’s mansion.
It was during the 2010 campaign that Scott announced that rather than adopt a purebred dog like the Obama family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo, his family would adopt a rescue dog. The campaign’s Facebook page held a contest to name the newly adopted retriever, choosing Reagan, and said at the time, “The Scott family is proud to announce that the name (chosen by you) for their newly adopted pup is Reagan! Thanks to everyone who participated in the fun contest.”
Then after one mention in the press in January 2011, shortly before Scott was sworn in, Reagan disappeared. There were no more photos, no mentions on Facebook.
When the Times contacted Scott’s office last Tuesday, communications director Brian Burgess declined to say where the dog was, accusing the reporters of “surfing some old Facebook or website pages.” Surprised at Burgess’ increasingly agitated stonewalling, an exasperated reporter asked the communications director if he’d killed the dog himself. Burgess replied that he hadn’t killed Reagan or any other dog, but still refused to say exactly what became of him.
Reporters, fearing the worst, continued to badger the governor’s office with questions about Reagan’s welfare. Burgiss “testily” replied late Wednesday, saying that he was working on an answer, and that he was fully aware of “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.”
On Thursday, Burgess told reporters to contact Scott’s new communications director Melissa Sellers, who told reporters for two days she was too busy to find out what happened to the dog.
A spokesperson for Mrs. Scott also declined to shed any light on Reagan’s fate, saying only that the governor’s family has one dog, “a 7-year-old rescue Lab” named Tallee.
Finally, on Monday, Gov. Scott told the Times that his family had surrendered the animal back to the rescue organization.
“He was a rescue dog,” he said, “and he couldn’t be around anybody that was carrying anything, and so he wouldn’t get better.”
Reagan never attacked anyone, but “scared the living daylights” out of several people in the mansion. A kitchen staffer threatened to quit if the dog wasn’t removed, and staff photographer Eric Tournay was alarmed because the dog “barked like crazy” every time Tournay raised his camera to take a photo.
A spokesperson for the governor’s office confirmed that Reagan was returned approximately one year ago to All Pets Grooming and Boarding in Naples, Florida.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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