Local News

Apex Residence Only Recently Overrun With Sheep

Posted March 27, 2007

— Dozens of neglected sheep seized Monday from an Apex home weren't there until recently, authorities said Tuesday.

Wake County animal control officers removed 77 sheep from the property on West Moore Street after responding to a complaint about sheep running loose in a nearby cemetery. Thirty of the animals were so neglected that they had to be euthanized, officials said.

David Watts, the owner of the sheep, could face animal cruelty and other charges, Apex Police Chief Jack Lewis said.

Watts couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Lewis and Michael Williams, director of Wake County Animal Care, Control and Adoption, said Watts usually had about 20 sheep on his property and that they were in decent health.

"The volume of animals that were there (Monday) was shocking to us," Lewis said. "The number of animals that were there was far more than anyone had seen (before)."

Numerous sheep carcasses were found on the property Monday, as were skeletal remains of other animals, said Dr. Kelli Ferris, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The surviving animals suffered from severely infected legs and abcesses on their abdomens, which came from dragging themselves on the ground to avoid putting weight on their legs, Ferris said.

"We see this with people who profess to love their animals very much but keep them in squalid conditions," she said, calling such people "collectors, not pet owners."

Animal control officers had responded to five sheep-related complaints at the residence since June 2005 and found no problems, Williams said. The most recent visit was in December.

"Until this last visit, the gentleman was taking care of them," Williams said, defending his officers' decisions not to take any action before Monday.

"We try our best to work with the owners of animals to improve their care," he said. "We can't take someone's property unless we feel (an animal's) death is imminent."

Chatham County animal control officers on Tuesday afternoon checked a farm that Watts owns near Moncure and found about 60 sheep there, as well as some llamas and cows. All of the animals had food and water and appeared to be well cared for, authorities said, but a veterinarian was going to inspect the animals.

Watts told Wake County authorities that some of the sheep lived inside his house and on his porch. Authorities said they had never looked inside the house when responding to an animal complaint.

One neighbor said Mondaythat the smell around the residence “was so bad you couldn't sit out there most of the time, and the flies were pretty bad."

Lewis said recent warm temperatures and the sudden jump in the number of sheep probably aggravated the odor problem.

Thirty-five sheep were taken to a local farm, where there will be nursed back to health. Fifteen sheep are being watched by a rescue group. After the sheep are healthy, they may be put up for adoption.

Ferris warned against inexperienced people adopting the sheep.

"These are not pet animals. They are livestock," she said.


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  • luvnanimal Mar 28, 2007

    There are only 2 truly valid comments posted here.... One by Kimnc and the other by Chale @ insuranceprof. They both have first hand knowledge of the abuse and reported it as they should. I believe the neglect falls within the Wake County Animal Control office....surely they have more "power" to handle these situations, unfortunately they are either understaffed or just collecting a paycheck.....I tend to lean towards the pay. I say this because I too was a victim of a neighbors abuse who was breeding pit bulls for fighting... I made several calls to Wake County Animal Control and the Sheriff's office but was told to take pics of dogs breaking thru electric fence etc...the animals were chained to trees all along the property lines......as with the sheep case, animal control didnt do anything until a child was bitten. Only then did animal control and a police officer come out and attempt to seize the animal..that is another story alltogether...I'll just say obvious inexperience...

  • clancy Mar 28, 2007

    To the people who do not care about abuse; why bother to read the story. The man did not have good intentions; I met him. He collected animals and let them suffer. He lied to cover up the animals diseases and put tarps up around his property when I called the police last year about a sheep that was so tightly tied to a tree it could not move. I called twice in the last couple of years, the last time in December and was explicit about the conditions and number of sick sheep there. They were not just recently overrun with them; there have been probably 40 at least there the whole time. I ride my bike by there and the animals have always been in bad condition. The police were well aware of this. To the people who don't care about abuse; I'll bet the Apex police dept. has a job for you. You can arrest people for not wearing helmets on there bikes, then go get some coffee and gossip about everyone in town.

  • chargernut69 Mar 28, 2007

    check out CNN -- Apex again made national news.... first it was a fire at a chemical dump in town that few knew existed, now 80 sheep in a downtown area....? Redneck mentality....

  • El Doggo Mar 27, 2007

    Nature and Darwin go together...

  • rainy39 Mar 27, 2007

    I always thought nature and god go hand in hand..keep on keeping on Rev RB.

  • myself Mar 27, 2007

    Rev. RB~you said, "Either way, they're nature's creatures". Nature's creatures????? What kind of Rev are you? They are God's creatures. Please don't brag about being a reverend (a female one at that) and make my God/Christianity look bad. And, yes, I am a female too.

  • rainy39 Mar 27, 2007

    This story is about dead/dying animals and many of you, all you care about is calling someone an Idiot if they dont "agree" with your opinion.. Maybe you need to grow up.

  • Myword Mar 27, 2007

    It could be this guy has had a stroke or something and is heading into dementia land...I don't know his age, but it happens.

  • Go_ back_ north Mar 27, 2007

    Lay off the Oprah, will you?

  • regularguy_nc-at-yahoo.com Mar 27, 2007

    maybe mr. watts had been trying to inject human cells his own way?