Local News

Man Charged With Animal Cruelty After Sheep Seized

Posted March 28, 2007 10:35 a.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2007 6:06 p.m. EDT

— The owner of dozens of neglected sheep seized from an Apex home got his bond reduced in a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

David Watts was arrested Tuesday night on 30 counts of animal cruelty after 30 of his sheep had to be euthanized because they were found to be severely ill. If convicted, Watts faces up to 45 days in jail on each count.

Animal control officers removed 47 other sheep from the home Monday when they responded to a complaint of sheep running loose in a nearby cemetery.

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 abscesses on their abdomens, which came from dragging themselves on the ground to avoid putting weight on their legs, Ferris said.

"Dave has cared for animals for a long time," said Watts' attorney, Josh Hansen. "He was probably overwhelmed with the spring litter of lambs. He couldn't keep up with some of the routine care for the entire herd."

Chatham County animal control officers sent a veterinarian Wednesday to a farm Watts owns near Moncure to inspect animals there. The veterinarian determined some of the 60 or so sheep at the farm have foot problems, although they aren't in as bad condition as the Apex sheep, officials said.

Animal control officials said they want to meet with Watts to establish a treatment regimen for the sheep so the problems don't worsen.

Watts is being held in the Wake County Jail on $12,000 bond. His original bond had been set at $30,000.