Dead dog sparks outcry in Greensboro

by Eric Ginsburg

by Eric Ginsburg

Guilford County Animal Control is investigating the handling of a case where a pit bull was found dead on the side of the road on July 6. Jason Martin, who works nearby, called Greensboro police the day before to report men smoking marijuana on the porch of a house on the 700 block of Park Avenue where he said a dog was chained up without access to water. The next day, he said the pit bull was dead, wrapped in a plastic bag inside of a cardboard box by the curb.

Greensboro police Capt. Brian James said police responded to Martin’s July 5 call and found no evidence of illegal drugs and reported that the dog was in good condition. While it was tethered, which is legal, police said it had access to water, was running around and appeared healthy, but they relayed the concern to the owner.

“If we had determined that the dog was malnourished or being abused, we would have taken action,” James said. “Unfortunately something happened between when we responded and the very next morning. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

When Martin called Guilford Metro 911 the morning of July 6 to report the dog’s body, he said the operator repeatedly stated that police had already responded to the address and found no evidence of illegal activity and kept asking, “What do you want me to do, sir?” Martin didn’t know at the time that animal control could send the dog’s body for testing in Raleigh to determine the cause of death if foul play was suspected and possibly charge the owner with animal cruelty.

“This guy from 911 should have known that and instead of asking me what I wanted him to do he should have known what to do,” Martin said. “I could take things into my own hands and steal the dog but then I would get a felony. I expect them to do their job. Several laws have been broken and I’m absolutely shocked at how they just pushed me away. That dog was put out there like a piece of garbage.”

James, who called Martin on July 11, said the operator might not have known off the top of their head what could be done either. Martin said the operator should have at least known to call animal control.

Guilford Metro 911 Operations Manager Melanie Neal contested Martin’s version of the story, saying that they referred his second call to animal control. She was not familiar with the case until she looked it up and said there is no investigation on their end.

“We dispatched on it both times that they called us so I am not sure what the question is,” Neal said.

Once Martin realized animal control could test for a cause of death he called them, but before an animal control officer could respond the dog was picked up by the sanitation department. Unless multiple dogs were involved, somehow the healthy animal police saw July 5 died overnight, but foul play can’t be proved without the body.

James said in the past the police have worked with’  animal control to bring charges against animal abusers, such as arresting the suspect who burned a dog and left it in a park a few years ago.

Animal Control Manager Scott Greene declined to comment on the case other than to say there is an ongoing investigation being conducted by animal control. He confirmed the agency has sent bodies to Raleigh for testing in the past and said it was done on a case-by-case basis. Of the 17,000 calls they receive annually, however, he said very few are for possible wrongful death cases.

Martin was particularly worried because he said he has seen puppies and another dog at the house before. A message he wrote about the case to Ruff Love Rescue in Thomasville received widespread attention on the internet, including outraged commenters suggesting animal lovers steal abused and neglected animals out of their owner’s yards.