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Puppy recovering after surviving domestic violence incident

Posted February 3, 2014
Updated February 4, 2014

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— A Chatham County puppy that survived an attack by one of her owners is out of surgery and will soon need a new home.

Niahmetrius Williams, 23, of 1788 Old Lystra Road in Chapel Hill, was arrested Jan. 8 and charged with cruelty to animals, assault on female, simple assault on officer and communicating threats.

Williams was arrested after a domestic dispute where he allegedly struck his girlfriend in the face and attempted to cut off the dog's leg, authorities said. The animal was found in nearby woods, her left femur shattered in 10 places.

A large knife was used to attack Bella, a 4-month-old terrier mix, to punish the dog’s other owner, according to Chatham Animal Rescue and Education. The dog, who had surgery at Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas, is expected to walk again.

"She's such a fantastic little girl, so initially it was heartbreaking to see her like that," said Dr. Elaine Holmes, the surgeon who operated on the pup.

Domestic violence incidents involving pets are not uncommon, said Molly Jenkins, human-animal interaction specialist with the American Humane Association. Authorities see pet abuse as a red flag for other types of abuse, including child abuse, she said.

"It's essentially used as a way to hurt the victim and to control that person as well," she said. "The person that's doing the abuse may hurt the animal as a way to say 'if you leave me or do anything I don't like I will hurt the dog.'"

Over 70 percent of female pet owners entering women’s shelters reported their abuser injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control their victims, according to the association. Up to 40 percent of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets if they leave, the association said.

Stephanie Francis works for InterAct of Wake County, which provides support services to victims of domestic violence. The nonprofit started a safe pets program about six years ago, when organizers realized many women were staying in dangerous situations to protect their animals.

"It is not unusual for perpetrators of (domestic violence) to use animals as just another tool for taking power away and trying to control their victims," Francis said.

Bella is currently with a foster family, and once healed, will be available for adoption through Chatham Animal Rescue and Education.


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  • scubagirl2 Feb 5, 2014

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    Well I for one blame the person who COMMITS the crime, nothing else! So please do NOT lump all together as it's erroneous.....

  • mockingbird313 Feb 5, 2014

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    Common_Sensey, did you really just have the nerve to make such a predisposed judgement about someone? Because this guy has a "black" name and is black himself, that he is the only type of person who could do something like this? Woooooow, you are quite something. I happen to be Caucasian, but somehow you managed to even insult me with your narrow racist views. I think what this man did was absolutely cruel and horrible, and virtually nothing gets me madder than animal abuse, but stating such a judgement about a specific race is quite unfair in its own right. Learn some manners.

  • wytlytn Feb 4, 2014

    Hopefully this so called man will never be able to own a precious pet again! I hope that some "Bubba" in lock up will give him what he deserves.....this just absolutly enrages me!

  • mack24 Feb 4, 2014

    What a weak piece of filth. You reckon he's brave enough to step up to a real man who would fight back? As far as the woman goes, she'll probably bail him out first chance becuase she know he be lovin her....
    That gem of a pup will have no problem finding a good home.

  • hottabs75 Feb 4, 2014

    These statistics are horrifying. Battered women get children, pets, literally everything used as a weapon against them. These men should be locked away forever - they have no respect for ANY kind of life but their own.

  • buckskin022 Feb 4, 2014

    This is not a real man, a real man wouldn't do something like this. This sub-human has no respect for others and needs to be locked up. All he had to do is just walk away like an adult.

  • Common_Sensey Feb 4, 2014

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    Scuba, you're wrong. It's actually pretty common for Liberals to place blame on everyone else - society, upbringing, influences, bad family life, poverty - instead of blaming the person who actually committed the crime. Often in order to get reduced sentences, avoid death penalty, etc. That old line is getting tired...

  • Common_Sensey Feb 4, 2014

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    While this guy certainly belongs in prison, and I'm sure he's got a long rap sheet., all that'll happen in prison is he'll just meet more drug hookups and other connections. When he's released, he'll be worse and more of a danger in public than he is now. He'll probably swear allegiance into a gang too. That's how many people get into gangs in the first place, in prison.

  • scubagirl2 Feb 4, 2014

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    smh at your post, which 1) really makes no sense at all and 2) is so far off the mark you should be embarrassed.....We DON'T change colors on actions like this EVER!!!

  • Billy the Kid Feb 4, 2014

    I'd like to know how that puppy disrespected him in order for him to keep it real like he did.