UPDATED: The Word Police are on Duty in Odessa

The police department runs the pound in Odessa, TX.  In October, local rescuers complained that the pound was killing pets who had rescue commitments.  The city issued a press release in response that basically said the rescuers were lying and come on, we’re doing the best we can to get animals the vet care they need and the homes they deserve.

A check on Petfinder reveals the Odessa pound has zero animals listed there today.

This week, a St. Bernard was adopted from the pound and taken to a vet for treatment of a broken leg.  A photograph circulated online showed the dog had suffered in pain for approximately 2 weeks at the pound without treatment prior to adoption.  A local rescuer noted that if a citizen had left a dog to suffer in this condition, he would have been charged with animal cruelty:

CBS 7 sent the city and police a number of questions for the shelter – including asking whether the dog was treated at all and if not, why not?

Neither the city nor the shelter responded to those questions. OPD Cpl. Steve LeSueur says an internal investigation has been launched into the dog’s case.

Screengrab from the KOSA website showing portions of a city document which rescuers are required to sign before saving animals from the Odessa pound
Screengrab from the KOSA website showing portions of a city document which rescuers are required to sign before saving animals from the Odessa pound

The city of Odessa requires rescuers to sign a document that appears to violate their First Amendment rights to free speech.  Any rescuer who wants to save animals from the Odessa pound must promise to never “identify an animal as being “rescued” from City of Odessa Animal Control, nor will any member of the group make disparaging remarks, verbally or in writing, about City of Odessa Animal Control.” Violations will result in the refusal to allow the offending rescue group to save any more lives at the pound.

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.

It’s true that it would be misleading to use the word “rescue” when referring to an animal who was living in a safe haven and then was transferred to another safe haven.  But when referring to a facility that leaves severely injured pets to suffer, puts little to no effort into marketing animals for adoption, and kills animals they are supposed to be sheltering, “rescue” is an entirely appropriate word choice.  Plus there’s that whole First Amendment thingy.  But if the Odessa police department really wants to serve as the Word Police, I would suggest they start with “euthanasia” in their own document.

Or they could quit worrying about the word “rescue” entirely and start doing their jobs.  Is there a suggestion box?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Update, added December 6:  The Odessa police department investigated itself in the matter of the dog left to suffer in pain for 2 weeks at the pound and determined there was no wrongdoing.  Because the pound “is not a hospital”.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, I guess.

Further, the city manager said that while the contract limiting free speech rights of rescuers is legal, the wording will be changed.

(Thanks Clarice for the update.)

16 thoughts on “UPDATED: The Word Police are on Duty in Odessa

  1. I wonder if the city of Odessa would be happier if the rescue used the word, “saved from” instead of rescued? After all, that’s the word they themselves used.

    1. I’m trying to imagine the awkward conversation when a rescuer walks into the place: “Hi, I’m with a… group – the kind that takes animals away from facilities with kill rooms. I’m here to… not adopt but otherwise take responsibility for an animal.”

  2. And again with the “appearance is more important than reality” approach. Funny thing, if you fix the reality, the appearance issue fixes itself. But that seems like too much work, I guess.

  3. Thank you for keeping this story alive. I am the one who blasted the internet with the picture of the St. Bernard when I found out the condition he was in. It turned out his hip was dislocated and he had developed atrophy as a result of being left to lay in pain for so long on the hard concrete floor. OAC does absolutely nothing to help these animals and when anyone complains to them, they retaliate by creating longer kill lists and kill more dogs.
    They do not clean the facility and do nothing to prevent the spread of disease….Almost every dog that is lucky enough to be “rescued” from that dungeon is sick and requires expensive vet visits…A lot of them don’t survive a week because of distemper, parvo and respiratory infections…It is getting harder and harder to find rescues willing to take any dogs from OAC because they fear spreading more disease.
    We are working on writing up a petition for change.org, but before we go live with it, Matt Rist with CBS 7 has more stories to air about state guidelines that OAC is in violation of…We are going to try to time the petition going public about the same time as his next story aires…probably right after Christmas.

  4. They consider a place that kills almost 6,000 in less than 10 months a safe haven?? Come on, really? Oh wait, they not only kill them but before they are gassed to death they go without medical care and suffer till it’s their turn to be gassed. Just awful and the police should be ashamed of themselves.

  5. The injured St. Bernard was in the kennel next to the dog we adopted…I pointed him out to my husband that he was not putting any weight on his leg. The dog we adopted was the skinniest dog I ever saw. He had been there for 10 days and was scheduled to be killed the day we got him. They said we had to have a utility bill to get an animal but all I had was a phone bill and my ECAD showing I owned our property…they wouldn’t allow it and were rude about it. A lady who was there said she’d see if she could get him for me and was able to…The pound would have rather killed the poor old dog they had helped to starve than allow someone to adopt him and care for him. We figured he would die but took him to the vet who said he couldn’t have any vaccinations or be neutered until he recovered some. This was December 3rd and he is scheduled to be neutered on the 16th of January. He also was coughing every breath. He hasn’t coughed in over 3 weeks and he is looking much better. Personally, I think whoever is in charge of our pound needs to be fired and jailed for cruelty to animals…

  6. No Kill Nation, can help with dealing with the number of animals and not killing any of them. It takes, intelligence, hard work and a positive attitude. A society is judged by it’s humanity and cruelty to animals is inhumane.

  7. look, when an officer of the law thinks they are above and beyond the care of animal, human, you know there’s a problem.

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