RALEIGH, N.C. — Animal control officers in Raleigh are cracking down on people who violate animal protection laws, but one particular case is drawing their attention.
Animal Control Director Joe Blomquist said Terrell Wilkins neglected his pit bull, Sheek, in his back yard after he was hit by a car. Blomquist said Sheek chewed his own leg off. Police charged Wilkins with a felony -- cruelty to animals.
"That's one of the worst cases I've seen and trust me, I've seen a lot over 30 years," he said. "I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen to an animal. Never."
"They're trying to give me a felony for something I didn't really do," Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he has paperwork to prove he took Sheek to a vet right after the accident. He said the vet warned him the dog might lose feeling in his injured leg and could chew it off.
"He was going to bite his leg off anyway if he didn't get the feeling back," he said. "That's what he did. He bit it off."
Raleigh animal control officers respond to 16,000 complaints a year. They said their main goal is to educate animal owners tha they need to provide food, water, shelter and health care.
In May, animal control officers pushed an ordinance through the City Council requiring shelters for all outdoor dogs. The City Council also approved an increase in penalties for violators. They went from $15 and to now as high as $250.
"We're not here to collect money, but we want people to be responsible with their animals," Blomquist said.
Wilkins said Sheek was running around and acting normal even after he lost his leg. Animal control officers took Sheek to a veterinarian, who decided to euthanize the animal. Wilkins returns to court to face his charge on Jan. 29.