Harpers Crossroads — An Apex man convicted of animal cruelty in 2007 is under investigation again, this time for complaints about animals on a rural Chatham County farm, where he now lives.
David Watts received three years’ probation, paid $2,200 in restitution and was banned from owning animals until 2010 after authorities seized 77 sheep from his home in downtown Apex in 2007. Thirty of the animals were so ill that they had to be euthanized.
In the meantime, Watts moved to a rural Chatham County farm. Officials there said they recently received a complaint about decomposing carcasses fouling a stream. State and local officials and veterinarians responded and said they found an unspecified number of carcasses and one cow so sick it had to be euthanized on the spot.
When a WRAL News reporter and photographer went to the farm on Thursday, they saw about 150 sheep and cows in the weed-filled front pasture. Some were limping, others were coughing, and many were so thin their ribs and hips were visible from a distance. Some were trying to eat from what appeared to be a large mound of rotting hay.
Watts declined to speak with WRAL News on Thursday but told investigators the dead cattle were sick when he bought them a few days ago, authorities said.
Chatham County Public Health Director Holly Coleman says she is aware of Watts's record. But she says this is the first complaint lodged against him in Chatham County. She says state and county officials are continuing to investigate it.
"We have seen nothing so far that would indicate animal cruelty,” she said, adding that animal control officials were advising Watts on the proper care for the animals. He will also be required to bring in a veterinarian for them, she said.