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'Dogs Against Romney' Protester Pulled Over For Suspected Animal Abuse

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a service dog a snack as he meets visitors while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a service dog a snack as he meets visitors while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

Police in Littleton, Colo., on Monday pulled over a motorist who was protesting the way Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney transported his dog on a family vacation three decades ago.

The motorist, a fan of the fledgling "Dogs Against Romney" protest movement, had a dog kennel strapped to the roof of his car -- just like Romney did during a 12-hour drive in 1983.

A photo of police stopping the car went viral on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the city of Littleton confirmed the traffic stop happened because of canine concerns.

"Our 911 center received a call from a motorist who saw the car in the photo drive past, and she said the door to the animal carrier was open and a large white dog was in it," Littleton city spokeswoman Kelli Narde said in an interview. A police dispatcher radioed nearby officers, who spotted the car and pulled it over. Fortunately, no dog was harmed: "There was in fact a stuffed animal in the cage," Narde said.

On Tuesday, Romney campaigned in Colorado, where former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) beat him in the state's Republican caucus. Santorum won as well in Republican presidential nominating contests in Minnesota and Missouri.

Narde said the motorist was not cited for having a kennel on his car roof, but he did get a ticket for failing to provide proof of insurance. Efforts to reach the person were unsuccessful.

"We respect anyone's right to support or oppose anyone's candidate but when you pull a stunt like that and lead passersby to think there's a live animal in there, it's probably taking it too far," Narde said.

Romney's roof-mounted dog carrier became famous thanks to a 2007 Boston Globe story. The paper reported that in 1983, Romney packed up his family for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario. His five sons filled up the car, leaving no room for the family's Irish Setter, Seamus, so the resourceful Romney strapped the dog's crate to the car roof.

When Seamus suffered an apparent bout of diarrhea during the trip, Romney pulled into a service station, where "he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway," the Globe reported. "It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management."

In a recent interview, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Romney about the Seamus incident: "What were you thinking?"

"This was a completely airtight kennel mounted on the top of our car. He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself, he was in a kennel at home a great deal of time as well," Romney said. "We had five kids inside the car and my guess is he would have liked it a lot better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside."

When Wallace said Massachusetts law prohibits carrying animals on top of cars, Romney, the former governor of that state, said, "I wasn't familiar with that."

In a blog post on Tuesday, Dogs Against Romney said the fact that police pulled over the motorist protesting Seamus' treatment "clearly illustrates how blatantly awful, incredibly dangerous, outrageously insensitive -- and even illegal -- Mitt Romney's decision to transport his own dog on the roof of his car was."

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