Local News

Apex Shepherd Ordered to Fix His Home

Posted April 20, 2007 6:33 a.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2007 6:06 p.m. EDT

— Town officials on Friday ordered a man to clean property where animal control officials last month seized dozens of severely ill sheep.

Residents have complained for years about the smell emanating from David Watts' property. In March, authorities found 77 sheep at his home, and 30 of the animals were so ill that they had to be euthanized.

Inspectors also said Watts' home was in such disrepair that they found holes in the ceiling, broken windows and no running water on the first floor.

Watts was supposed to explain at a Friday meeting with town officials why he kept the sheep at his property, but only his attorney, Josh Hansen, showed up at the meeting.

The town gave Watts two weeks to file permit applications and present cost estimates of repair. One inspector said it could cost about $12,000 to bring the house up to minimum town standards.

Hansen asked for a 60-day continuance, but officials denied the request. He said Watts has already started some minor repairs on his own.

"He's done some ceiling and roof repairs, as far as I know. There were some minor plumbing issues that he was able to handle immediately, stuff that was cited but was just a matter of turning on a valve," he said.

There's little evidence at the property that 77 sheep used to live there, which pleases both town officials and nearby residents.

"I'm extremely happy with what's been done thus far," Town Manager Bruce Radford said. "We have to give Mr. Watts a great deal of credit for the phenomenal amount of progress that's been made with regard to cleaning up the property."

Neighbors said cleaning up the property would help their effort to get the area placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"This is my neighborhood, so I want to be a positive voice for good things to happen to my neighborhood," resident Trish Creta said.

Watts faces 30 animal cruelty charges in connection with the sheep that had to be euthanized. He is expected to return to court in May.

Watts told WRAL that the sheep bring him peace. When some sheep had birthing complications, Watts told WRAL that his focus was on the newborns and making sure they survived.