What happened to Gov. Rick Scott's dog, Reagan?

8:30 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Have you seen Governor Rick Scott's dog Reagan recently? Neither has anyone else.

That got people asking what happened to Florida's first pooch.

It turns out Reagan was quietly given back to the shelter from which he was adopted, shortly after Scott's election.

Reagan, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever, was adopted by the Governor shortly after he won the Republican primary in 2010. Reagan was a political pet from the start, even named by Facebook fans, and rapidly became a four-legged favorite.

But then he seemingly vanished.

Well, canine conundrum solved. After several inquiries, Governor Scott himself finally explained what happened on Tuesday.

Reagan, he said, was lovable, but too aggressive.

"He did not like everybody carrying things around. He barked loudly at people," said Gov. Scott, "So I gave him back to the prior owner."

Yes, Reagan was returned to the folks at All Pets Grooming in Naples, which was where the Scott's daughter first found the now-former first pet.

"Sometimes dogs don't fit right. I mean, they did try," said All Pets' owner Kelly Norman.

Norman thinks the Scotts did the right thing. They even hired a professional trainer, she says, but it just didn't work out.

Reagan, who's gone back to his original name of Pluto, was quickly re-adopted, she says, and is again living a dog's life on a horse ranch.

"I really don't think it had anything to do with him becoming Governor at all," said Norman, when asked about the political timing of Reagan's adoption.

Still, historically speaking,  pets and politics have long been intertwined with images often used to influence public opinion.

"Of course, sometimes it's a real good photo-op if you're a politician and you get seen walking your own dog," said USF Political Science Professor Susan Macmanus.

Perhaps the best example is President Richard Nixon's "Checkers" speech. The televised chat about the family's donated Cocker Spaniel humanized Nixon and arguably reversed his sinking popularity.

The dog had been a gift, which some questioned as yet another political favor. But Nixon stood firm on Checkers.

"You know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog," he said, "and I just want to to say no matter what they say about it, we're gonna keep it."

But unlike Nixon, Governor Scott didn't keep Reagan. It's a move which may or may not come back to bite him.

Someone's already started a Twitter account complete with the Reagan's picture. 

But Macmanus says the Scotts quickly took in a new dog, "and I assume that the Scotts adopted in the right spirit and adopted another pet in the right spirit... but only they know for sure," she said.

The Scott family's new dog is a also a rescued Lab named "Tally," short for "Tallahassee." He's also 7 years old, and the Governor says Tally is very sweet, loves attention, and has been a much better fit for their family.

Follow 10 News Reporter Eric Glasser on twitter @ericglassertv

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