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.
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.)