Volunteers and members of animal rescue groups that give generously of their time and resources are not permitted to exercise their constitutional right of free speech in San Antonio, Texas. If they do so, they are threatened or removed.
Free speech is not tolerated by the city when it concerns the operation of their Animal Care Services (ACS).
According to the ACS Volunteer Policy Details:
“5. At all times, all volunteers are required to provide positive press (via social media, blogs, emails, news releases, etc.) regarding the ACS facility, staff, fellow volunteers, rescue partners and visitors.
- If concerns arise, it should first be brought to the attention of the Volunteer Coordinator, secondly, the Live Release Manager, and finally the Director’s office.
- Negative press from a volunteer may be cause for terminating the volunteer relationship.”
According to No Kill Advocate Nathan Winograd, of the No Kill Advocacy Center: “Federal law prohibits a state or municipal government to take action designed to prevent or intimidate people from exercising their First Amendment rights, or punish them for doing so, and there can be no dispute that complaining about neglectful and abusive conditions at animal shelters is a constitutionally protected right."
The city claims that they follow the No Kill Equation of Nathan Winograd; however, many of the claims of San Antonio city managers are in dispute.
The right to free speech is not the only right that citizens of San Antonio, Texas are not free to exercise. The rights of the disabled and the city’s municipal code are openly violated by city managers.
Additionally, those that leave comments on the city’s Animal Care Services Facebook page often find that their comments are removed and their accounts are blocked from the site. Some have even been removed and blocked only for asking how many of the Brooks shelter dogs were brought to adoption events.
The situation at the controversial Brooks animal shelter is of great concern to many in the city. Factual information is not provided concerning the shelter or other related concerns. Representatives of the city of San Antonio have been found using deceptive statements in many areas to prevent residents from learning what transpires at the severely restricted facility.
Nonprofit members, rescue groups, and citizens continue to push for honesty in city government, and they hope that more of their constitutional and civil rights will not be removed by those who have sworn to serve the public.