Local News

Wilson sheriff defends response to animal cruelty calls

Posted November 7, 2011 10:59 p.m. EST
Updated November 8, 2011 12:45 a.m. EST

— The Wilson County Humane Society took its fight for better enforcement of animal control ordinances to county commissioners Monday evening, while Sheriff Calvin Woodard defended his office's track record on animal cruelty and welfare calls.

Last month, authorities seized two horses, a donkey and a goat from the home of Jonathan Whitley on Webb Lake Road after neighbors complained to authorities eight times since January about crowded living conditions, emaciated animals and carcasses on the property. Whitley was charged with animal cruelty and failing to dispose of dead animals.

But Anne Pression with the Humane Society said the arrest is too little, too late.

"We have an ordinance, fairly well-written and easy to understand, and it's not being followed," she said Monday in a presentation at the Board of Commissioners meeting. "The fact that it's not being followed is allowing animals to die a horrible death."

Woodard said the Whitley case was properly investigated and cited each date his officers responded to calls about the property.

"We never dropped the ball," he said. "We checked on the animals."

He said that the Humane Society's attack is unfounded and turned down Pression's request to form a committee made up of deputies and local animal rescue groups to save neglected and abused animals in the county.

"This is not a game of back and forth fighting. I don't like to fight," he said. "But I'm not going to stand by and allow somebody to lie (about) me when I have 164 people whose lives and jobs are at stake."

Pression said she won't back down, but she hopes that the Humane Society and sheriff's office can work together in the future.

"It is not acceptable to us, and we will not mind our own business about the inhumane treatment of animals in our county," she said. "There's room for improvement here. There's room for better communication. I think there's room to work together. It's just not happening."

Woodard said he plans to meet with national Humane Society representatives to resolve concerns about animal welfare in the county.