- - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Florida’s first dog has been booted from the governor’s mansion — a relocation that sent several media outlets into a tizzy, prompting some to tie Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election hopes to the animal’s disappearance and others to float conspiracy theories.

After winning the gubernatorial nomination in 2010, Mr. Scott rescued a Labrador Retriever and named it Reagan, in honor of the 40th president. Mr. Scott won high praise from animal lovers of all political walks, with some giving him extra kudos for his breed selection — different from President Obama’s 2009 adoption of a Portugese water dog.

Since January 2011, however, Reagan has been missing from the public eye.

And an inquiring press wanted to know why. USA Today reported on Jan. 15 that Tampa Bay Times reporters at one point asked a former Scott staffer if the dog had been killed. Overseas media, meanwhile, seized on the story and ran with it.

“After some digging,” The Daily Mail reported, “the reporters realized there were no photos of Reagan since before the election. Images of the dog had been removed from Scott’s gubernatorial campaign website as well.”

The mystery was solved this week, when reporters at a press event finally confronted Mr. Scott, demanding answers and seeking explanation. Turns out, Mr. Scott returned the dog for safety reasons.

Reagan scared the living daylights” out of people, Mr. Scott said, according to various reports. “He was a rescue dog and he couldn’t be around anybody that was carrying anything, and so he wouldn’t get better.”

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