The lawyer for an Irmo doctor under fire for abandoning his dog in Florida questioned whether the animal should have been released from the adopting shelter, since the dog was being treated for a variety of health issues.
Those issues included heart worm disease and Kennel Cough, said Hartsville-based attorney Karl Smith, who is representing William Odom. The dog, Roman, also had been recently neutered.
Columbia-based Pawmetto Lifeline had medically cleared the dog for adoption, according to a letter Odom wrote, “since he was on medications for the (Kennel Cough) (as well as heartworm meds).” The dog was adopted on Dec. 23, the attorney said.
“They reminded us that we couldn’t board him because of the (Kennel Cough), but they really wanted us to pick Roman up as soon as possible to free up the kennel spot to save another dog from death row,” Odom said in the letter. “So, trying to do our part to help the Lifeline cause, we called our vacation hotels, changed our rooms to pet friendly, and we agreed to go ahead and pick him up.”
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Smith said Wednesday many of the professionals he has talked to so far in the animal shelter and veterinarian industries would not have released any dog to any family if it had the health issues that Roman had.
“Roman had been recently neutered, had heart worm disease and Kennel Cough,” Smith said. “That dog should have never been given to this family, or any family. That’s not me saying it, that’s the other people in the industry including shelters and veterinarians.”
Smith said his client has been the target of death threats and scathing remarks on social media since leaving the dog tied to a telephone pole at a Flagler Beach, Fla., monastery, while he was vacationing there over the Christmas holiday with his family.
Roman was taken in after he was found several days after Christmas by Florida resident Janelle Marcello, where the dog remained Wednesday. So far, Marcello said, she has received nearly 70 private Facebook messages and emails from those interested in adopting Roman. But Pawmetto Lifeline is handling Roman’s adoption.
Efforts to reach Pawmetto Lifeline were unsuccessful Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the letter Odom sent to Marcello, he said he loaded Roman up in a van along with his family, which included his infant child and another small dog, and drove to Florida for the holidays because he could not find a place to board Roman.
Prior to the trip, Odom described the dog as being domineering and aggressive towards his family and small dog, snapping multiple times at his infant child.
Odom said he was forced to protect himself and his family after Roman bit him twice and continued snapping at his child during the trip. Instead of taking the dog to a shelter where he knew it would be put down, Odom did the next best thing, he said, and left Roman tied to a telephone pole outside of the monastery with food and a note urging someone to adopt him.
Marcello disputes Odom’s descriptions of the dog as aggressive.
Odom’s attorney said the doctor received a threat from one caller Tuesday night in which the caller identified himself and told him he would be coming for him shortly. Odom contacted law enforcement to report the call.
“You’ve seen Dr. Odom’s letter, he clearly explained to (Marcello) that his family and children were put in a situation where there was an aggressive animal,” Smith said Wednesday. “He was only protecting his family.”