News & Politics

In the Doghouse: Kristi Noem and 5 Other Canine Political Scandals

The South Dakota governor isn’t the first politico to (metaphorically) screw the pooch.

Photograph by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) garnered all the wrong headlines amid her bid to be Donald Trump’s 2024 VP pick, as The Guardian reported Friday that Noem bizarrely admitted to executing her dog in her new book. But as it turns out, politicians have often courted courtesy with man’s best friend. Here are five more times a politician has—metaphorically—screwed the pooch.


Biden’s Biters

If Noem winds up on the 2024 ticket, she could take solace in knowing she’s not the only candidate dogged by scandal. Indeed, not one, but two of President Biden’s pups had to be rehomed from the White House after chomping on Secret Service agents. The latter, Commander, was involved in at least 25 biting incidents, according to USA Today, before being banished to the president’s Delaware residence. 


Romney’s Ruff Ride

Governor of Massachusetts, Senator from Utah—Mitt Romney has held a lot of titles during his storied political career. “Responsible pet owner” may not be one of them. As first reported in the Boston Globe in 2007, the former GOP presidential nominee once strapped his Irish settler, Seamus, in a kennel on the roof of his car for a 12-hour road trip, only stopping when the poor pooch—understandably—got sick. 


Rick Scott’s Flip-Flop

Running for governor as a political novice can be an uphill battle. When Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) first ran to lead the Sunshine State in 2010, he decided to endear himself to voters the old-fashioned way: by adopting a cute beagle, which he named Reagan. But while his namesake would serve two terms in the White House, Reagan the dog didn’t even get one term in the governor’s mansion: Scott returned him shortly after moving to Tallahassee.


Hey, Hey, LBJ, Call the ASPCA?

Lyndon B. Johnson was infamous for his rough-around-the-edges demeanor to staff and legislators alike—and it wasn’t just humans that the 36th president gave the “Johnson Treatment” to. In 1964, Johnson horrified members of the press when he picked up his beagles, Him and Her, by their ears in front of a gaggle of reporters. Never one to back down, Johnson did it again, remarking to the media that “handling them by the ears was not painful, and that any resultant yelps were yelps of joy,” as the New York Times reported. 


Nixon Plays Checkers

In a political scandal that almost seems quaint in this day and age, then-VP candidate Richard Nixon grabbed his first national headlines in 1952 when he was accused of improperly using donor funds for personal gain. To salvage his veep spot, Nixon delivered a primetime speech where he vowed to return his improper gifts—except for a black-and-white cocker spaniel named Checkers. The speech was very well-received by both the public and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who decided to keep Nixon on his ticket, as the future president would go on to enjoy a long and entirely non-controversial career afterward.

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow