The Story of How Maine’s Governor Got His Dog Will Make You Angry

A sordid tale.


On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage posted a photo of the newest member of his family: a Jack Russell terrier mix named Veto—an apparent reference to the combative Republican’s record of rejecting legislation.

But for one woman, Veto’s adoption was unwelcome news. Heath Arsenault, a victim of sexual assault, told local news outlet NECN she had been hoping to adopt the animal herself as an emotional support dog. She said she was heartbroken when she learned that the shelter had bent the rules to allow the governor to adopt him before he became available to the public.

“I just saw the picture and I broke down,” Arsenault said. “He was just the right size for my apartment and he’s just really sweet.”

Unbeknownst to her, LePage had also seen the dog on the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society’s website. But unlike Arsenault, who planned to take off of work on Wednesday to ensure she was first in the adoption line, LePage dropped by the shelter a day early and snagged Veto before the general public had an opportunity to do so.

“It wasn’t about, ‘Oh, I wanted that dog and somebody else adopted it,” Arsenault, added. “It just felt like my happiness was taken away from me. Bettering my relationships—that was taken away from me.”

“No one should be given special privileges, even if they are the governor,” she told the Portland Press Herald.

The shelter has since admitted to breaking its own rules by giving LePage a chance to adopt the dog a day earlier than the public.

It remains to be seen if Veto will soon be moving to Washington, DC, as LePage is reportedly gunning for a position in the Trump administration.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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