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Durham authorities defend slow response to injured dog

Posted October 21, 2015

Jonathan Parker and a woman who stopped to help him tend to his injured dog were hit by an SUV on Liberty Street in Durham on Oct. 19, 2015.
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— Durham County authorities responded Wednesday to criticism from a man who was hit by an SUV Monday night while waiting for help for his injured dog, saying the man shouldn't have been in the road.

Jonathan Parker said his pit bull, King, had followed another dog into Liberty Street near North Guthrie Avenue and was hit by a car that didn't stop.

Parker, 47, said he called the Durham County Sheriff's Office, which handles after-hours calls for Durham County Animal Services, three times and waited more than an hour for help. He said he was out on Liberty Street for so long – he didn't move the dog for fear of causing further injury – that two women stopped at various times to help him.

One of the women, Stephanie Wilson, was leaning over to check whether King had a heartbeat when she and Parker were hit by an SUV and dragged underneath the vehicle. Wilson, 29, suffered critical injuries, police said, while Parker was treated at a local hospital and released.

Sheriff's office spokesman Capt. Don Baker said Wednesday that the two Animal Services deputies on duty Monday night were on high-priority calls. Although he didn't provide details as to what they were doing, the agency considers people being chased or attacked by an animal, an animal in danger of rabies exposure or livestock blocking a road as higher priorities than an animal getting hit by a car.

Baker also said that it's the owner's responsibility to move a pet hit by a car from the road and seek veterinary care.

"The Animal Services Division Deputies are not trained nor equipped to provide emergency animal care. The Durham Sheriff’s Office is also not responsible for removing Domesticated or Non Domesticated animals who have deceased from the roadway," Baker wrote in an email to WRAL News.

Parker said King's carcass was left in a nearby yard for more than 15 hours before someone finally came to pick it up.

Margarita Hernandez De La Cruz, 54, of Durham, has been charged with driving while her license was revoked and not having insurance on her vehicle in connection with the accident that injured Parker and Wilson.

17 Comments

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  • Steve Graff Oct 22, 2015
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    I'm tired of people letting their dogs run around off leash. I have seen three dogs allowed to run loose get hit and killed by cars. The root cause of this issue. I'm sorry to hear that the dogs owner and the good samaritan that stopped where hit and injured by an foolish driver, I hope that they are able to recover quickly from their injuries. I also hope that the irresponsible driver receives just punishment.

  • Michele Wilkins Oct 22, 2015
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    Some people in the world you just can't do enough for ......

  • Jim Halbert Oct 22, 2015
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    That's great that you got that a poor guy not wanting to move his hurt dog was obviously trying to get tax payers to pay his vet bill. I totally missed that while reading the article, but then again I also forgot to wear my tinfoil hat today.

  • Kristin Byrne Oct 22, 2015
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    How do you know what was said to him? He could've been told that someone would respond as soon as they were able, but that they were out on other calls that are higher priority. 911 is not an emergency vet service. I've had a family dog hit by a car. There was no calling 911. There was us scooping her in the car and rushing her to the vet to get her medical treatment ASAP. Animal control officers aren't vets. They're not going to perform any medical treatment, and they are no more trained dealing with a hurt animal than the rest of us.

    I have compassion, but this guy was wrong. It was his responsibility to get the dog to an emergency vet. I'm very sorry that they were hit by a car, but had he been responsible and taken care of his dog, this would've been avoided.

  • Kimberly Jarman Oct 22, 2015
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    Absolutely. Had this dog been properly leashed maybe this entire situation would have been avoided.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
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    The person that answered the call shouldn't have had to tell him that it was his responsibility to take the dog to the vet. That's just plain and simple common sense. He just wanted to try and make it so that someone else would end up paying for the vet bills for him.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
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    Well for one she has been charged for driving without a license and not having insurance but the fact that they were practically sitting in the middle of the road at night time is the reason why they were hit. Which they shouldn't have been there in the first place because of the fact that the dogs owner should have taken him to the vet himself rather than trying to put the cost of his dogs medical bills on the taxpayers like he was apparently trying to do.

  • Matthew Sullivan Oct 21, 2015
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    The owner should have had the common sense to know that the county is not responsible for tending to a person's pet and the subsequent medical bills that would come from taking it to the vet. An animal that gets hit by a vehicle is the responsibility of the owner plain and simple.

  • Karen Wilson Oct 21, 2015
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    I don't understand why the dispatcher didn't just tell the man that it was his responsibility to move the Pet and seek veterinary care. This whole situation could've been avoided if they had communicated this to him and not lied to him. Also, The lack of compassion buy some posters is pathetic!!

  • Jerry Powell Oct 21, 2015
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    And that is part of the problem. People think 911 is the solution to all of their problems. Heaven forbid that a bus crash into a utility pole during a sports championship event and knock the cable out. The telecommunicators will be so overwhelmed answering 911 calls for the cable being out that they can't dispatch responders to the bus crash.

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