- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) - Three volunteers have sued an animal shelter, saying the organization deleted critical remarks they made on its Facebook page and then barred them from commenting.

Anna Strang, DawnMarie Jacoby and Michael Price filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday that alleges the Atlantic County Animal Shelter violated their First Amendment rights, NJ.com reported (https://bit.ly/2nzPHUe).

The volunteers’ comments were centered on allegations of abuse against dogs and their belief that the shelter doesn’t follow proper protocol in handling or euthanizing animals, according to attorney Edward Harrington Heyburn.

The local Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that the abuse allegations against the shelter were unfounded earlier this month.

The volunteers regularly commented on the page before they were “muted” earlier this year. None of the plaintiffs - all Atlantic County residents - were notified that they were being blocked or told why their comments were removed.

“When you have a government (Facebook) page, you can’t censor it,” Heyburn said. “These posts can’t be deleted and you can’t prevent someone from commenting.”

The volunteers are seeking an injunction that would prohibit comments from being removed because of their viewpoint.

A spokeswoman for the county said the law department received notice of the lawsuit Thursday and it is being reviewed.

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Information from: NJ Advance Media.

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