FORT MYERS (CBSMiami) — A Florida man convicted of animal cruelty for taping a dog’s mouth shut and leaving the animal dehydrated and malnourished was sentenced to five years of probation on Monday. The dog later becoming part of the Lee County Sheriff’s office in Fort Myers as Deputy Chance.
Oscar Lee Thompson III, 19, was convicted in February of a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, according to court records.
Thompson is also not allowed to live in a home with animals, or possess any animals. He must undergo a mental health evaluation, anger management counseling, and graduate high school with a 2.5 GPA or better.
Animal control officers found the stray Florida Cur in February 2019, roaming a neighborhood in Lehigh Acres, about 17 miles east of Fort Myers.
The dog was found with red electrical tape around his mouth; he was in respiratory distress and limping with a bleeding wound on his leg.
An officer cut the tape off the dog’s snout and gave it water. Rescuers named the dog Chance.
A crime scene technician collected the tape that had been around Chance’s mouth, and tips from the community led investigators to Thompson, officials said. Forensic testing later matched Thompson’s fingerprints and DNA to the tape removed from the dog’s mouth.
After the dog’s recovery, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno adopted and deputized Chance.
The canine is now part of the sheriff office’s Community Relations Bureau serving as a “spokesdog” for Pets on Patrol.