GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Photos of a dog tied to a tree, surrounded by flood waters, prompted an outcry on social media Friday. The owner of the dog said the picture does not tell the whole story.
"My dog is not neglected, he is very well cared for," the owner said. "I was working the overnight shift, and I wasn't able to go home when it started raining."
It all started when a neighbor snapped a photo of the dog and sent it to the Humane Society of Louisiana.
"The lady that sent the picture out has been asking to buy our dog, and we've said no," the owner said. "We explained to the cop everything that was going on and he said it shouldn't have gone this far."
Within a matter of hours, the photo went viral. Dorson sent a press release to media outlets after having difficulty getting a response emergency officials.
"The Ascension Parish Animal Control Department, which normally would respond to these types of complaints, closes at 11 a.m. on Friday," he said in the press release.
Dorson said he then turned to law enforcement.
"Our deputies went out and the homeowner was not home," said Allison Hudson, spokesperson for the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office. "A relative came and took the dog and this case is under investigation for owner responsibilities."
The press release focused on the shortcomings.
"We obviously need the Ascension Parish Animal Control Department to work closely with the sheriff's office on these matters and have extended hours, so that emergency issues, such as this one, can be addressed in an expedient manner."
The owner of the dog feels the story was twisted, painting him as a villain rather than a victim of circumstances.
"People are putting comments out there that the owner should be shot, but I don't neglect my dog," he said. "He has a shelter outside, but he chose not to go in it. He had the chain wrapped around the tree."
Regardless, Dorson said the situation highlights problems that need to be addressed.
"The Humane Society of Louisiana, as part of its statewide outreach program, plans to host 10 town hall meetings in different communities during the year, in order to address animal control and neglect complaints on the grass-roots level," reads the press release. "The group will host its first meeting on March 20 at the New Iberia Parish Library from 2-3:30 p.m. and hopes to schedule a similar meeting in April or May in Gonzales."
As for the reaction online to the photography posted by the Humane Society, a petition was created on Change.org. It seeks to create a law that would prohibit tethering of animals. It has more than 8,000 signatures.