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Wilson Humane Society faults sheriff in animal cruelty case

Posted October 31, 2011

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— The welfare of several farm animals at the center of animal cruelty case in Wilson has the local humane society blaming the sheriff's office for a lack of response to community concerns about the animals' owner.

According to 911 documents, neighbors called the Wilson County Sheriff's Office to the home of Jonathan Whitley on Webb Lake Road eight times since January to investigate animal neglect concerns.

In two cases, animal control officers found carcasses on the property, but the owner was never charged and the property was never searched.

Ricky Webb, who owns a farm across the street from Whitley, says neighbors have been complaining about the crowded living conditions and emaciated animals on the property for years.

"That's pitiful. I hate to say it. That's what the owners need," Webb said. "They need to be shut in a pen without food or water for two or three days."

It wasn't until last week, that authorities seized two horses, a donkey and a goat and charged Whitley, 29, with animal cruelty and failing to dispose of dead animals.

But the Wilson County Humane Society's Anne Pression says the arrest comes a little too late and is indicative of a bigger issue with animal control.

"In Wilson County, this is not the first animal abuse case that we've had of this nature," she said. "There is a pattern of non-responsiveness, a pattern of apathy (in the sheriff's office). Nobody wants to do anything."

According to its website, the Humane Society received a call on Oct. 15 about a dead foal at Whitley's property and called 911. Three days later, while trying to meet Whitley at his home, the group called 911 again after noticing there was no drinking water or hay available for the animals.

At that point, authorities obtained a warrant and impounded the animals.

Sheriff Calvin Woodard, whose office oversees the county's animal enforcement division, said his deputies tried to contact Whitley in the past but that no one was ever home.

"All the other animals, of course, at that time, appeared healthy, and there was no way that they could state that those animals died of neglect," Woodard said.

The Humane Society has since started an online petition for local authorities to enforce animal control ordinances.

But Woodard disagrees with Pression's accusations.

"I believe in their fight," he said. "They should believe in our fight. We should be working together."

20 Comments

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  • just my2cents Nov 3, 2011

    Paddie, MY comment was directed at the media grabbing the story any printing only HALF of it. There obviously was some neglect. Sounds like the deputy made a bad decision...but the Humane Society and FTLD calls the WCSO non stop for tethered dogs, a stray dog, a dog that barks, a dog that looks mangie, etc....if they would limit those calls to the REAL calls, maybe things would be a little better. Why don't you get all the facts yourself and them make an opinion.

  • estrauch Nov 2, 2011

    I am so glad this woman trespassed and took photos of the animals that were neglected and lying in their own feces decaying. She is a hero because she saved the other animals. Do you know how long it takes for an animal to rot and decay? It takes a good long while for the whole thing to break down to bones that are clean (which is what some of the pictures depicted). I question the sanity of Mr. and Mrs. Whitley. Who in their right mind would leave animal carcasses to rot in their yards!? They should not be allowed to own any animal ever again! No matter who is in political office, action should have been taken much sooner than it was. I commend her and anyone else who fights for the animals who have no voice and are totally dependent on humans for food, water and shelter. It is a shame that crysmiller26 can't see that this was about the well being of the animals and NOT about Woodard or one woman who trespassed.

  • crysmiller26 Nov 1, 2011

    I hate to bust everyones bubble-but this lady tresspassed, breaking and entering and illegally took photos, as she did in other cases. I saw these animals 2 months ago and they were fine. I have bought some show winning goats from him over the years, and all of his animals looked great.This case is a bunch of bull...if you have animals, they are gonna die regardless of old age..killed by dogs or etc. ---she is assuming how they died. I can assure you, these animals were not starved. It will all come out in the end ...its a bunch of political stuff, and she wants to run the show...

  • ifoughtthelaw Nov 1, 2011

    Sheriff Woodard is a joke.....he can't even enforce the barking dog ordinance. I filed a written complaint as required for the dog issues in my neighborhood and NOTHING was done about it. If he can't direct his group to do the simple things he sure can't handle bigger issues of animal control.

  • Here2tellya Nov 1, 2011

    someone always blaming someone else. They all are at fault and everyone of them could have done more. No excuses folks. The sad part is that the animals had to suffer.

  • barbstillkickin Nov 1, 2011

    Well paddie I do not care what some one told me I refuse to watch any animal starve for no one. I will feed them then leave notes every where to who fed them and what they were like. I will call humane shelter and sit on the drive way to make sure any animal is safe. And for pbryan003 Wake County is also a very kind and caring Humane Shelter and I can assure you that if one person ever called on starving animals they would have been there and took them first time. Wake county has the fewest employees at the shelter then any place but they respond very fast to bad treatment of any animal. This owner should go to jail for mistreatment of these animals. I cried when I saw these pictures and wanted to go and make this man pay for the cruelty.

  • estrauch Nov 1, 2011

    I live in Wilson and am ashamed to say I voted for Woodard. I had no idea he would turn his back on the animal loving community of Wilson. He will not be getting my vote after this. He says in this story that he is willing to work with the Wilson Humane Society. REALLY???? That is not what a Rep from the WHS said. In fact, Woodard told her that he had no intentions of discussing this case or any other case of animal abuse. He is only trying to save face now that this news has hit WRAL. Shame on Woodard and shame on his staff for not following through when the community notified them of animal abuse and neglect. I've seen the pictures that were submitted to Woodard and there is no mistaking that this was horrific!!!!! And you had better believe For the Love of Dogs and the Wilson Humane Society will be calling the Sheriff to investigate cases of animal abuse and neglect. IT'S THEIR JOB TO INVESTIGATE !!!! I will be voting more carefully next election! Shame on Woodard!!!!!!!

  • pbryan003 Nov 1, 2011

    The Wilson Humane Society is a great organization with some wonderful caring people who run it. I am from Wayne county and was looking a tux cat a year ago when Wayne county did not have any at the time. Wilson Humane Society went out of their way to help me adopt a tux cat that was in their county shelter....not only did they save that animals life, I received a wonderful pet and a greatly admire what these folks do each day in the lives of so many unwanted animals.. They went above and beyond the norm for me to obtain this cat and I Thank them everyday for that...Many counties could learn from this Humane Society...They are GREAT !! Pam Bryan/ Wayne county

  • paddie Nov 1, 2011

    If the neighbors put food and water out, then when the AC comes out and they see there is food and water....they'll leave thinking there isn't a problem. I was always told by AC NOT to feed or water them no matter how tempting.

  • storchheim Nov 1, 2011

    If the bank had wanted to foreclose on the property, they wouldn't have used the b stuff excuse that "no one was home". They'd have posted notice and proceeded.

    But hey, this isn't as important as MONEY, it's only living, feeling beings quite capable of suffering.

    Whatsamatter, Badge Boy, wouldn't they pay overtime?

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