Burned Dog’s Owner Speaks Out, Claims it was Unexpected Accident
BROWNSVILLE – Cameron County Sheriff’s investigators continue looking into the case of a burned puppy. Meanwhile, his owner is breaking his silence.
The dog, which animal rescue workers named Phoenix, is currently at the Harlingen Humane Society where he continues his recovery. Last week, he was discovered at the Brownsville dog park with severe burns to his neck and back.
His daily routine includes getting his burn wounds cleaned and new bandages wrapped around his body.
Owner Sonny Cortez told CHANNEL 5 NEWS threats against him and his family have been non-stop since our story aired. He said dog's real name is "Tuko."
"All this Facebook stuff that started - (accusations of) animal cruelty, this and that - that had nothing to do with it," Cortez said.
He claimed a neighbor did it unintentionally.
"They were making a fish fry. After they were done with the oil, they threw the oil over the porch and it landed on the dog," Cortez said. "I know he wouldn't have done that on purpose, because he's my friend and he knows that was my dog."
Cortez said he's been working security following Hurricane Harvey in the Corpus Christi area and wasn't present when it happened.
He instructed his son to take care of the dog as best he could at home and treat him with antibiotic ointments purchased in Mexico. He said there was no extra money to take "Tuko" to a veterinarian.
"Not a lot of people can get that kind of medical attention, and a lot of people do self-treat their dogs at home," Cortez said. "That's the best we could do, because that's all we can afford."
CHANNEL 5 NEWS wanted to speak to the neighbor about what happened. However, Cortez would not give us his address since he's out of town working.
Kim Warunek, executive director at the Harlingen Humane Society, said money is not an excuse. She said dog owners have the responsibility to seek medical attention.
Warunek also said that Phoenix or Tuko is still considered Cortez's dog. If he decides not to surrender his dog, he'll be challenged in court to give up the dog so he may be adopted out.
If a judge decides Cortez can keep his dog, he'll be responsible for all the medical bills.