Suburban Shepherd: Caring for Lambs Led to Neglect
Posted March 30, 2007
Sanford, N.C. — An Apex man facing animal cruelty charges after dozens of neglected sheep were seized from his residence said Friday that he was too busy caring for newborn lambs in recent weeks to look after his other sheep.
David Watts is charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty. Wake County animal control officers seized 77 sheep from his Apex home on Monday and had to euthanize 30 of the animals because they were severely ill.
Animal control officers in Chatham and Lee counties said they are working with Watts to ensure more than 120 sheep he owns on two farms in those counties receive the proper care. Veterinarians who have inspected the two flocks said some of the sheep have infected feet, but the problem doesn't rise to the level of cruelty.
Watts said he raises a small number of sheep for petting zoos and otherwise uses the animals to graze on his land. He described the animals as gentle, saying they give him peace, and said the neglect issue arose because he was spending all of his time trying to care for newborn lambs.
His ewes had problems giving birth this spring, which he said might be related to their feed. His time was consumed with helping the sheep give birth and making sure the lambs survived, which didn't leave him any time to care for his other sheep, he said.