Local News

Skittish About Livestock, Apex Has New Rule in the Works

Posted March 28, 2007 11:05 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2007 11:38 p.m. EDT

— The town of Apex is considering a new law restricting certain types of livestock following a recent animal abuse case.

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.

Police found 78 sheep on Watts' property in the town's historic downtown area. Neighbors said they've been fighting town officials for months to get help for the animals.

"Those things are supposed to be for a farm, not in a neighborhood," said Sherri Preddy, who lives just a few yards away from where the neglected sheep were confiscated.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly told WRAL he is working on a draft ordinance that will be presented to the town council next Tuesday. He said one of the biggest challenges is coming up with a definition of livestock, and he said many parts of Apex are rural and that certain animals should be allowed within the town's limits.

Preddy said she and other neighbors have been complaining about the livestock and the smell for months. Nothing was done until police arrived this week.

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

On a farm elsewhere in Apex, Staci Trace said she can't imagine life without her horses or her other livestock. She said she hopes one man's alleged behavior won't impact the rest of the animal-loving community.

"We've got a lot of people around here that take care of their animals like they are supposed to," Trace said. "They may have a bit of a fight on their hands."