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Authorities: Lee County man had legal right to shoot neighbor's dog on his property

Posted May 12

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— The owners of a Lee County dog who was shot to death over a dead chicken said their neighbor went too far in protecting his property. Now, the family said they’re angry the man won’t face any charges.

Bella was a husky who played with the Cox family’s 7-year-old son and opened gifts on Christmas morning. Her owners, Ron and Jessica Cox, said in June, a neighbor came by their home on Mill Pond Road with a dead chicken and a warning that if the dog stepped onto their property again, she would be killed.

The neighbor’s property, with its chicken pens, adjoins the Coxes’ backyard. The couple said, in response to the warning, they put up a wooden fence and installed an electric wire to keep Bella from getting out.

“Unfortunately, Sunday or Monday, her collar batteries went dead,” Ron Cox said.

On Tuesday, Ron Cox said Bella managed to dig beneath the fence and wire and wandered next door while Jessica Cox was in the kitchen.

“I heard one single gunshot. I looked out my kitchen window and I saw Bella laying there on the ground,” she said.

Jessica ran outside and saw that her husky had been shot between the eyes.

“I was in complete shock and I asked him, or yelled at him, ‘how could you kill my dog’ and he held up his chicken and said ‘this is how’,” Jessica Cox said.

At that point, she said her neighbor hurled Bella’s body over the fence.

Nobody answered the door at the home Thursday, but a Lee County sheriff’s report says the neighbor saw the dog inside his fenced yard, grabbing a chicken, when he took aim.

A deputy who responded to the incident told Jessica Cox that the man “has a legal right to protect his property.” The man is protected by state statute and the Lee County Sheriff's Office said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

State law allows a person to kill an animal to protect other animals or property but the Coxes said their neighbor didn’t have to kill Bella.

“If we had to buy a hundred chickens for the one, we would have done it,” Ron Cox said. “They never gave us a chance.”

Lee County Sheriff's Captain John Holly said that the neighbor reported two chickens had been killed by the dog before Tuesday's incident. The sheriff's report also states that the neighbor has previously called Animal Control to get the dog off of his property.


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  • TJ Wahoo May 13, 4:11 p.m.
    user avatar

    Why not use a bb gun or a pellet gun? Either would have sent the dog a message and provided time to notify the dog owner. "Good neighbors" don't kill pets unless human/pet life and limb are in jeopardy.

  • Johnathan Gault May 13, 1:10 p.m.
    user avatar

    I am a dog lover, and have a farm background. The man was in the right. Allowing your neighbors livestock to be killed is no different from theft. He was courteous enough to warn them, butthe dog's owners were irresponsible and chose not to accept responsibility.

  • Malakai Bluebone May 13, 11:24 a.m.
    user avatar

    The man who shot the dog was completely in the right, and the owners of the dog were in the wrong. The dog had a history of attacking other animals, yet the owners did not take enough measure to prevent that from happening.

    The neighbor most likely considered his chickens pets, yet had at least 3 of them killed before he took action when no one else would. Maybe the people will get a dog that has less aggression to other animals next.

    I have a dog, you can see him on my profile. He's a rather large Doberman Pinscher. While I know he would not attack another animal I also do not let him out of my sight at any time while he is outside.

    If you love your animal you will do everything you can to protect it, and understand the consequences of what will happen if you don't. Whether it is a car or a bullet, out of your sight means it may be in someone else's. No matter what is in my yard, if another animal attacks an animal in it I will do what is needed.

  • Rebecca Caldwell May 13, 11:14 a.m.
    user avatar

    I'm sorry this happened. I am an animal lover, and would never want to see any animal hurt or killed. But the owners had plenty of notice there was a problem, and they failed to provide an adequate fix. The greater fault in this situation lies with them. If I had chickens, I might kill an animal that threatened them, too. The lives of dogs aren't innately more valuable than the lives of chickens just because most people like them better.

  • New Holland May 13, 11:09 a.m.
    user avatar

    Ok, both were wrong. the owners should have done better to keep the dog in, the chicken man should have tried something else. Lock the dog up and hold him for ransom or something.
    2 wrongs don't make a right. Yea people need to protect their property, but with common sense.
    People need to keep their pets on their property, if you can't then get rid of the pet. Most dogs hit that border on the electric fence and learn not to go near it. Maybe they didn't have the shock turned up high enough to deter the dog enough.
    Tragic all the way around.... live and learn

  • Roy Peede May 13, 10:43 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Exactly, I'd more than take a little punishment in my dogs memory. Throwing it over the fence pretty much sums up dude is a D bag.

  • Frank Curcio May 13, 10:32 a.m.
    user avatar

    There's legal, then there's common sense. I think the best description of the chicken-owning neighbor I've read here is "self-righteous". By all accounts the dog was just being a dog, not endangering any people, and while the neighbor might have had the legal right to shoot it, the fact that it was a family dog and not a feral one should have figured into the equation (i.e., it's the family's fault, not the dog's).

  • Chad Johnson May 13, 9:55 a.m.
    user avatar

    Well he told them. Not sure why they seem surprised

  • Terry Lightfoot May 13, 9:53 a.m.
    user avatar

    He may have a legal right, but that's just cruel, he could have chosen another way...that's someone's pet, I don't care about this man's d#mn chickens. Chickens aren't pets...we eat them.

  • Ginny Pospisil May 13, 9:42 a.m.
    user avatar

    I'd better not see a chicken on my property..... or the owner. A warning shot just wouldn't do. Gotta protect my property too.