Former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin triggered a social media firestorm after she posted Facebook photos of her son using the family dog as a step stool.
Palin’s post includes photos of 6-year-old Trig, who has Down Syndrome, standing on the back of the prone black Labrador in order to reach the kitchen sink.
May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward, Palin wrote in the photo caption. 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.
Palin’s post has received more than 62,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares as of Friday night. But it also drew stinging condemnation from hundreds of angry commenters on all the usual social media sites.
How can you allow this abuse to your dog? asked Fran Healey from West Vancouver, British Columbia. Would you step on your son so that you could reach something high up in the cupboard? You should be charged with animal abuse and your animals taken away from you!
Animals are not stepping stools or tools, wrote Sarah Fox. How dare you teach your child to disrespect their own pet like this? If my children treated our pets like this I would be appalled. I teach them to love animals.
What the hell passes for normal in #SarahPalins house? tweeted Nellie Sabin, adding maybe they put Trig on top of the car, a reference to the revelation that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney once drove 12 hours with Seamus the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car in a dog carrier.
There were also plenty of supportive comments.
As a mom with a child with special needs and a lab, these dogs are so in tune to the kids disabilities and their needs, asserted Jennifer Grzybicki Advincula. The dog wasn’t complaining, yelping or thrashing about. Labs are such a gentle breed and are best with these kids I guarantee you, if the dog was being injured in any way, [it] would have moved.
[The dog is] fine and I see it knows and loves the boy, agreed Cal Ellison of Littleton, Colorado. If the dog couldn’t handle it, the dog knows enough to quickly move. People that do not know that are probably not dog lovers or know anything about the type of dog and how strong they really are.
Others, like Twitter user Lauren Johnson, saw a more cynical motive in Palin’s inflammatory post.
#SarahPalin posted that pic because she knew it would rile people up, Johnson tweeted. What an inhumane way to get publicity.