Dog Owner Wants Case Reopened
Posted November 10, 1996
ZEBULON — A Zebulon woman whose dog was fatally poisoned with anti-freeze doused food got more disappointment Saturday. A Wake County magistrate's office refused to issue a criminal complaint against a neighbor who received a civil citation in the poisoning. The neighbor, Michael Lambert, is a Wake County deputy sheriff.
The decision not to file the criminal complaint was made by animal control officer Donnie Barham on the advice of the county attorney's office.
"It's like we hit a brick wall," Lisa Bailey said. Her 9-month-old 40-pound female dog named Tiger was euthanized Wednesday night after a veterinarian's treatment failed to save the dog.
"We can't do anything," Bailey said. "It's the county investigating the county."
On Saturday, Magistrate Timothy A. Hinnant refused to let Lisa Bailey file a criminal complaint after he learned that the animal control program had completed its investigation and issued only a civil complaint.
Hinnant said the only way the matter could be reopened is for the district attorney to do so.
Bailey says she plans to go to District Attorney Colon Willoughby on Tuesday.
County officials and animal control officers said Lambert admitted he had put anti-freeze on food and trash in his yard to deal with dogs getting into his trash.
Lambert may be fined $100 in the civil matter and has agreed to pay Bailey's veterinary bills.
Wake County's animal ordinance provides for both criminal and civil prosecution, according to Apex lawyer Mariana Burt. If Lambert were charged and convicted of a criminal misdemeanor of animal cruelty, he could be fined $500 and sentenced to a year in prison. The same law prohibits owners from letting their dogs roam off their property without a leash.
Because the county sheriff's department has no provisions in its policy for dealing with civil complaints, Lambert is not expected to be disciplined by the sheriff's department.
Robin Alley, owner of a Wake Forest pet grooming shop, said, "To me it is unreal that this would go on without being prosecuted. This is open season on every dog out there."
Alley said she would bring it up at Monday's meeting of the Raleigh Kennel Club, and suggest a letter-writing campaign to County Manager Richard Stevens and County Commissioner Gary Pendleton.