The lawyer for an Irmo doctor under fire for abandoning his dog in Florida questioned Wednesday whether the animal should have been released from the adopting shelter, since the dog was being treated for a variety of health problems.
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 problems Roman had.
“That dog should have never been given to this family, or any family,” Smith said. “That’s not me saying it, that’s the other people in the industry including shelters and veterinarians.”
Taylor Wilson, director of marketing and communications for Pawmetto Lifeline, said Wednesday she could not speak about the Odom case, only confirm the agency’s adoption policies and procedures.
Wilson said an animal with heart worm disease or kennel cough will receive medical treatment for an extended period of time before being cleared by the agency’s in-house veterinarians. Once an animal is determined to be successfully recovering from the ailments, adoption agents will notify the adopting family that the animal is ready to be picked up and taken home.
“We, as an agency, feel that a pet recovering from an illness in a home environment provides a less stressful recovery,” Wilson said. “A pet can be adopted and not cleared to go home yet with a family.”
Wilson also said animals will not be released from the agency after being spayed or neutered until they have gone through a successful 24 to 48 hours of recovery to a veterinarian’s satisfaction. If an animal recovers more quickly than the estimated timeline given to potential adopters, the agency notifies the family and allows them to pick up the animal at their discretion, but will honor the timeline given to the family if they choose to wait, Wilson said.
Wilson said Roman’s story has resulted in much interest from people who want to adopt Roman, and the agency is working to find his new “forever home.”
“We are heartbroken that this occurred to Roman,” Wilson said. “But, we are working to ensure that Roman has the best life possible in his new forever home.”
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, with whom the dog remained Wednesday.
In the letter Odom sent to Marcello, he described the dog as being domineering and aggressive toward his family and small dog, and 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 practice in Irmo, Advanced Pain Therapies (APT), was at the heart of a federal court case last fall.
Odom’s former office manager, Chandra Padgett, was accused of embezzling $2 million from his practice. Padgett received a maximum sentence of seven years and three months in federal prison for her conviction on charges of wire fraud and tax evasion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Watch video of Roman, which was taken by Eva Ziehl with the Daytona Beach GSD Rescue in Florida.