CBS 7 Investigates Further into Odessa Animal Control 12/5/13
An investigation into a viral photograph of a dog with what appears to be an "untreated" broken leg at Odessa Animal Control leads to a shocking discovery.
CBS 7's Matt Rist began asking questions, which prompted an OPD investigation, and uncovered some documents that could amount to limiting free speech. The dogs vet says it's recovering from traumatic injuries, it's tag shows he was at the pound for two weeks. But now it's something bigger, after uncovering threats by the shelter that if people talk badly about they shelter, they wouldn't be allowed to adopt.
The photo of the St Bernard went viral - alleging the Odessa Animal Shelter did not treat him for nearly two weeks. He was adopted this week, but his vet says he suffered traumatic injuries which would be very painful if left untreated.
"If it had been an individual that had done that to his own dog, he would've had criminal charges filed on him for animal cruelty. "
CBS 7 sent the city and police a number of questions for the shelter, asking whether the dog was treated at all, and if not, why?
Neither the City nor the shelter responded to those questions. OPD says an internal investigation has been launched into the dog's case.
Our investigation uncovered a copy of the City of Odessa's Animal Control Rescue Applications, which rescue groups must sign in order to take dogs out of the pound. An OAC representative confirmed it is a document given out by the shelter. The documents language restricts what rescuers can say about OAC.
"No member of the group will identify an animal as being "rescued" from City of Odessa Animal Control." -City of Odessa Animal Control Rescue Application
"…Nor will any member of the group make disparaging remarks, verbally or in writing, about City of Odessa Animal Control." -City of Odessa Animal Control Rescue Application
"In the event that this agreement is violated in any way…No further animals will be released to any member of the rescue group." -City of Odessa Animal Control Rescue Application
Criminal attorney Justin Low says the contract is likely a violation of First Amendment rights. "To limit that protected form of speech creates a problem."
Rist: "So, could this document leave the city vulnerable to litigation"
"Yes, very much so," responded Low.
CBS 7 called and left messages for every City Council member, the City Attorney and Manager. One person called back. When asked about the language in the document, City Council Member Dean Combs said he had received e-mail complaints about the shelter, but referred further questions to City Manager Richard Morton.
We will continue to track this story and plan to talk with City Officials tomorrow to try and get answers to these questions.