Oscar Lee Thompson III, 19, was found guilty as charged of one count of Aggravated Animal Cruelty, a third-degree felony, a case involving a dog that drew sympathy from people around the world. Thompson was found guilty following a one-day trial in Lee County.
A Lee County Domestic Animal Services Animal Control Officer responded to a complaint on February 26, 2019, about a stray dog in a person’s backyard in Lehigh Acres, with a wide band of red tape securing its mouth closed. The responding officer found the dog to be in respiratory distress and cut the tape off of the dog’s snout. The dog was given water and immediately drank a bowl full.
The dog also had a bleeding wound on the upper forearm leaving the dog unable to use the leg to support weight. The officer had to carry the dog to his vehicle to have an emergency evaluation by a veterinarian at Lee County Animal Services.
The dog, named “Chance” by its rescuers, was determined to be about a one-year-old, Florida Cur mix breed. The wound on the forearm was believed to be a puncture wound likely caused by another dog or an object within the past day or two of being found.
The tape that had been around Chance’s mouth was collected by a crime scene technician with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office who joined in the investigation. Chance’s story was widely circulated to find who was responsible.
A tip to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers led an animal control detective to Oscar Lee Thompson III as a person of interest. Thompson admitted knowing of the dog and claimed to have only known it as a stray that would come to his house occasionally, but denied knowledge of the animal cruelty. A buccal swab was taken from Thompson, as well as his fingerprints. Forensics later came back with a match to Thompson on a fingerprint and a DNA profile link to evidence lifted from the tape that had been used on Chance. Thompson was then arrested.
“What was done to Chance was not only a violation of Florida law, but also morally unconscionable. This young dog was harmed, left with no defenses, and then let go to wander in pain. Animal abuse, when the law and evidence supports the crime, will be prosecuted,” said State Attorney Amira Fox.
Chance’s story did not end there. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno adopted Chance and deputized the canine.
Chance is now part of the Lee County Sheriff Office’s Community Relations Bureau. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2nd.