An Oregon judge said he "probably" would have found Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney guilty of animal abuse had Romney's dog transport antics landed him in the judge's court.

Romney received a shoutout in an Oregon case involving four people who accidentally tied a pit bull to their Jeep, then forgot they'd done so before driving off. The Multnomah County district attorney's office tried two of the people for second degree animal abuse.

According to a report in the Oregonian, a defense attorney pointed out that even aspirants to the nation's highest office have subjected the family pet to questionable car treatment.

"Our presidential candidate tied up a dog and drove off with him for quite a while," a defense attorney said.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Kenneth Walker reportedly responded, "I would have probably found him guilty for that."

But the judge said the Oregonians who dragged their dog had been negligent, not reckless, so he found them not guilty. (The dog suffered injuries, but has made a full recovery.)

In 1983, Romney fastened his dog's crate to the roof of the family station wagon for a 12-hour drive to Canada. Animal lovers have protested the candidate ever since the Romneys told the Boston Globe about the unorthodox dog transport techniques in 2007.

On Monday, the online group Dogs Against Romney seized on the Oregon judge's comment, and the Obama-allied group Americans United for Change sent the Oregonian story to reporters.

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