PETA Outraged Over Photo of Sarah Palin’s Son Standing on Family Dog

by Patrick Mahaney on February 10, 2015


1_7_15.lgThis article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News ( column on as
Should you let your child or other human family member stand on your companion canine? My answer is always no, as even if a large dog shows no distress or reluctance to be stood upon by a small human, there is still a strong likelihood that damage could be done to vital structures helping to maintain the integrity of the vertebral (spinal) column or joints.
Recently, Sarah Palin has come under fire from animal welfare advocates for posting three (yes, three) photos on her Facebook page featuring her son Trig perched upon the family’s black Labrador Retriever, Jill, to get a boost while reaching for the kitchen countertop. Along with the photo, Palin shared the following words of inspiration:
Happy New Year!
May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for “up!”, found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone.
- Sarah Palin
For those of you who are unaware, Trig has Down syndrome and may not be aware that standing on another creature isn’t an appropriate option when his requests for “up” have not been acknowledged by his ‘oblivious mama.’ As a result, we should not blame Trig for standing on Jill. Yet, his mother should be admonished for not putting down her camera and striving to teach Trig to use a step stool instead of the family dog when in need of some help with “up.”

PETA issued a Response to Sarah Palin’s Facebook Post of Son Stepping on Family Dog stating:
It’s odd that anyone—let alone a mother—would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo. Then again, PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera.
Palin then responded to PETA through another Facebook post with the first line reading “Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog” which is a direct reference to President Obama’s admission of eating dog meat as a child when he lived in Indonesia. This comparison is moot to Ms. Palin’s defense, as Obama (like Trig), wasn’t fully in control of the circumstances and was only eating the food provided by his parents that was available and acceptable in the country in which he was living at the time.

After launching into a further rant against PETA and their supposed perch on leather furniture and avid use of leather goods, Palin concluded with:
Our pets, including Trig’s best buddy Jill Hadassah, are loved, spoiled and cared for more than some people care for their fellow man whose politics may not mesh with nonsensical liberally failed ways or don’t fit your flighty standards.
Jill is a precious part of our world. So is Trig.
- Sarah Palin
PETA then released PETA’s Response to Sarah Palin’s Second Facebook Post, which states:
PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief. Palin’s Facebook response shows us that she knows PETA about as well as she knows geography. Yes, we campaign against the Iditarod because when the dogs aren’t being driven—sometimes to death—most live chained or inside cages for their entire lives. And we’re a vegan organization, so we sit on pleather couches, wear stylish vegan kicks, and consider fish friends, not food. (Also, by the way, we just sent a case of vegan caviar to Vladimir Putin—and no, you can’t see his house from yours, Ms. Palin.) We have no reason to believe that the Palin companion animals aren’t ordinarily pampered, and we wish the entire family a peaceful and humane 2015.
Although Jill does not appear to mind the presence of a 30 pound (or so) child standing on her back, doing so as an alternative to a step stool is it a responsible choice for any canine caretaker. To get an idea of the nature of the potential damage done to Jill’s body, I sought advice from an expert in the field: Dr. Janice Elenbaas, DC who has spent years adjusting dogs, cats, and horses during her career as an animal chiropractor. Dr. Elenbaas states:
Standing on a dog’s back is never a good thing, no matter what the size of the dog or the person! Direct, excessive pressure can cause a myriad of issues including: fracture of a rib with possible lung puncture and internal organ damage sprain of the joint between the rib and the vertebra preventing the dog from taking a deep breath without pain damage to the scapula or shoulder blade interfering with forward movement of the upper limbs, with resulting inability to jump, walk or run nerve damage to the spine causing weakness, pain, loss of balance and proprioception, which is the ability to feel the ground
disc herniation of the thoracic and or cervical spine
Any of these injuries can take weeks or months of chiropractic care and physical rehabilitation or surgery. Depending on the extent of the damage, the resulting effects may be permanent.
One has to consider that this photo of Trig using Jill as a step stool isn’t likely an isolated episode. Such could be happening on a repeat basis either in this or other locations in the Palin household.
It’s best to always use common sense and not put your pets in harms way while striving to get that perfect, cute photo. Although Palin is trying to diffuse the situation, she must be made aware that voluntarily choosing to such photo of her dog being put in harm’s way on social media is going to create an uprising of concern among animal aficionados who have the best interest of all companion canines (and felines) in mind.
Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.
Copyright of this article (2015) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.


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