Scott's Missing Campaign Dog Is Safe And Living On A Ranch With A New Name

Jan 17, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 campaign dog, Reagan, has been located -- safe, but probably a little bitter -- on a horse ranch somewhere in southwest Florida. Tampa's WTSP Ch. 10 reports he's now known as Pluto.

This should close out a week of speculation about whatever happened to the rescued Labrador that Scott acquired, named through a Facebook contest and campaigned with...

HAPPIER DAYS: Gov. Rick Scott and Reagan during their brief partnership.
Credit Scott campaign

...before the dog mysteriously disappeared!

Dogged reporting by the Tampa Bay Times filled in the blanks: Turns out, Reagan was an unbalanced animal, prone to frightening barking fits and wholly unsuited to serve as Florida's First Dog. A campaign mistake on the scale of the Sarah Palin choice had occurred and steps clearly had to be taken.  

By the day of Gov. Scott's swearing-in, Reagan had vanished. But not until last week when reporters remembered there used to be a dog did it became a public question.

Lucy Morgan's account of the Reagan inquiry in the Times is pretty amusing, particularly with the sketch of   Republican Party communications guy Brian Burgess that emerges as he deals with what really could have turned into a PR catastrophe. Given Scott's poll numbers and the willingness of people to assume the very worst, there was an unspoken but available conclusion that Reagan had been done away with, or consigned by extraordinary rendition to some black hole prison in  Bulgaria. He was a desaparecido.

Last week, 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.’’

Had Reagan not been found, Scott would have had to run for re-election in 2014 against slogans like "Rick Scott: Did he kill his own dog?"

But no. Reagan, as Tampa's Ch. 10 reports , was properly returned to the agency that provided him and quickly replaced with a new, less excitable Labrador whose name is Tallee.

Now, Reagan is "Pluto,"  living quietly on a Florida horse ranch, his political career in ruins, and probably just waiting for the day that he can tell the whole story to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.