It took four days for a puppy to receive medical care after suffring burns to 25% of his body, according to the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department. The department has launched an animal cruelty investigation but the finger pointing on social media has ousted the alleged culprits. News Center 23 will not address the names allegedly involved until formally charged or named by Sheriff Omar Lucio but he’s anticipating an arrest soon, “definitely will send a strong message to people especially if they are found guilty…no question about it. We’ll bring the people to Justice who have committed this cruelty and then let the courts take its course.” While Sheriff Lucio has opted to keep the names private as the investigation unfolds, the caretakers and veterinarians nursing the Labrador mix have named the epitome of puppy dog eyes, Phoenix. The name is symbolic of his spirit and his character being he’s rising from heartbreaking and traumatizing experiences, “Yeah he has some buprenorphine on board which is very similar to morphine so he’s a happy camper” said Dr. Shelly Mitchell with Arroyo Veterinarian Clinic in Harlingen, Texas. Dr. Mitchell expects Phoenix to recover but it could take months as the wounds were already infected before he was taken to her clinic from Brownsville. According to the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department and the Brownsville Animal Regulation and Care Center, Phoenix was “dropped off” on Wednesday however, the burns appear to have been inflicted days earlier. “They did not seek medical care right away and that is animal cruelty. You break your leg then you need to go to the doctor then when your dog breaks his leg he needs to go to the doctor if your dog got burned from anything and that’s something you’d go to the doctor for your dog needs to.” Said Dr. Mitchell. News Center 23 met with Dr. Mitchell, Phoenix and Donja Rodriguez at the Arroyo Clinic. “until he heals up we won’t know what his true personality is going to be lying because he is in a lot of pain.” Said Donja Rodriguez while comforting Phoenix on an examination table. His ears are covered with gauze and neon pink medical tape and an occasional whimper will come from his tiny frame. In addition to the severe burns, Phoenix is dehydrated but his eyes are kind. While he has every reason to be aggressive and angry, he’s calm with staff and welcomes soft petting. His kind eyes scan the room as his tail wags when making eye contact. Donja believes his personality will be sweet but time will tell. She coordinated dog adoption and fostering through the non-profit Donja’s Dogs, “we’ll get him with the right family.”
Pheonix is under the primary care of Dr. Mitchell however the ownership is in question. Previous animal cruelty cases in neighboring Hidalgo County played out in public as a viral video of a German Shepard mix was dragged by a man in a motorized wheelchair. The video went viral and appeared in national headlines. The follow up on the animal cruelty case was who the owner was. It appears this will be a similar situation of who is the owner and what will happen to Phoenix as the investigation continues. Where Phoenix will go next is in question but his medical expenses are pilling. For those looking to help cover the cost as he undergoes extensive treatment can donate by PayPal to Donja’s Dogs firstname.lastname@example.org or call/drop off a donation to their vet Arroyo Veterinary Hospital in Harlingen at 956-428-4002, 1649 North 77 Sunshine Strip.