Beating and killing your own dog isn’t considered cruelty in Ashe County

Even though the names of the private citizens involved in this story are a matter of public record, I’m leaving them out. If you must know them, send a public records request to the Ashe County Manager. I will name the dog, however: she was a pit bull named Bullet.

In North Carolina, it is a Class H felony to “maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal.”

So, if someone reports that they heard their neighbor beat his dog, heard the dog crying and yelping as if in great pain and then heard gunshots that ended the crying and yelping, do you think local law enforcement should perhaps at least investigate whether felony animal cruelty occurred?

If you said  yes, I hope you don’t live in Ashe County, NC, because you would be very disappointed. No one seems to have told the folks in charge there that cruelly beating and killing a dog is a felony in the state of North Carolina. They all still seem to think that if a dog is your property, you can do whatever you want with her.

Sometime in September*, an Ashe County resident called the sheriff’s communications center to report that her neighbor had horribly beaten and killed his dog after the dog had killed her Yorkie. According to an email from a sheriff’s captain to County Manager Pat Mitchell, “neighbors and their children could hear dog crying and yelping and heard the beating” before the man shot and killed the dog.

Took it home and beat it really bad. Neighbors and their children could hear dog crying and yelping and heard the beating.

The comm center referred the call to Animal Control, where it was handled by ACO Dana Shatley. According to an email from Animal Control Director Joe Testerman to Dr. Mitchell, the ACO  “explained that Mr. ___ did have a legal right to destroy his own property,” and that had the man not killed his dog, he would have been told to keep the dog on his property and issued a citation.

Well, I guess that settles it, then.

"It seems reasonable to me since the owner killed his own animal"

One may presume the rules are different if the animal one beats and kills belongs to someone else. That would probably be theft.

According to one email, a sheriff’s employee reported the incident to social services because the man’s 3-year-old son was present during the killing, and to “Narcs” because the man is “a meth user” and a convicted felon.

None of the emails mention any concern over why a convicted felon has a firearm. I guess if he’s only using it to dispose of his own property they’re all good with that up in Ashe County.

*I don’t know the exact date of the incident because the only records County Manager Pat Mitchell sent me as a result of my public records request were emails written more than a month after the incident.  Information I obtained elsewhere puts the date around Sept 23. Even though the emails reference calls to the county comm center, which are recorded and logged, I received no records from the sheriff’s department at all. Sheriff James Williams told me he had sent all dispatch records regarding this incident to Dr. Mitchell, and Dr. Mitchell told me she sent me everything she received. I can’t say if these records are being deliberately withheld from me or if this is just bureaucratic incompetence at work, but it appears the only way I would get these records is by filing a legal complaint against Ashe County.


Filed under Abuse, Ashe County, cruelty

9 responses to “Beating and killing your own dog isn’t considered cruelty in Ashe County

  1. Clare Tager

    Lisa this is an amazing piece you have written eloquent ,,,,,,,,,,, comprehensive, extremely well documented and questioning as far as ” where is the outrage?” we need to get this into the papers,,,,,,,,,,,,, have you forwarded to the newspaper or commissioners here? if not I will drop off copies thank you so muc you are amazing grateful heart clare

    • Thank you, Clare. I have not forwarded to newspapers or commissioners. (I don’t have commissioners email addresses, for one thing–Ashe County doesn’t make them public.) Since no charges were filed in the incident, the newspaper may not consider it “news” (after all, the issue was pronounced settled by all officials involved, and the newspapers don’t have an animal advocacy mission like I do.) So they likely wouldn’t be interested, unless maybe someone were to write a letter to the editor.

      I think at this point, any physical evidence of animal abuse if probably gone, so there’s little chance charges would be filed. My hope is that the culture of disregard for animals by Ashe County Animal Control and others will change. It’s too late for Bullet, but not for others, and not for all the pets in that pound, waiting for their turn to die in the gas chamber.

      • livvy1234

        There are bureaucratic paper shufflers and their are bureaucratic policy changers. Who are the folks interested in Ashe County to make change? Or are they all walking zombies? This might sound insulting, but truth is truth. We are a violent society and becoming more indifferent, the more we read and see. DESENSITIZED to suffering.

      • There are Ashe County citizens who care very much and would like to see change there, and I believe that there are county officials and employees who would also like to see improvements. It’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling and keeping it rolling.

  2. For what it’s worth, I have forwarded the post about this horrific – and patently illegal – situation to my friend who works at WRAL-TV in Raleigh-Durham.

  3. lynn bowman

    I want the ball to roll. This is sickening! Tell me who to write. There has to be someone who care! Of course I feel terrible for the yorkie owner as I have a small dog—and a large dog who could hurt her if I wasn’t the diligent owner that I am—but does the other dog have no rights? Two wrongs don’t make a right!

  4. Pingback: Demolish the gas chambers! | FixNC

  5. This was me that called 911 that day. I just came across this. It was my moms yorkie😦

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