Probation ordered in animal cruelty case

Published 8:46 pm Monday, November 18, 2013

Kenneth Davis

Kenneth Davis

Two years of probation and a $500 fine was the punishment for a man who allowed five dogs to die of starvation in 2011.

Monday, Kenneth William Davis, a resident of Belhaven, pleaded guilty to six charges of felony cruelty to animals in Beaufort County Superior Court. Judge Cy A. Grant Sr. handed down two consolidated sentences of six to eight months in prison to be served back to back should Davis not fulfill the requirements of his probation.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Rice summarized the case for Grant: in December of 2011, a neighbor of Davis’ reported to county animal control officials an emaciated dog on a property on Davis Lane. On investigation, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputies found one severely emaciated dog chained in a yard, as well as the remains of five other dogs in varying states of decay — one of which was skeletal remains still chained to a stake, Rice said.

According to a statement to deputies during investigation, Davis said he “knew he was not feeding them well and was sorry that they starved.”

“Why didn’t you feed your dogs?” Grant asked Davis in court.

Davis told the court that because his job as a commercial fisherman required him to be gone for weeks or a month at a time, he had made arrangements to have the dogs fed, but that had not happened. Davis said he was still out fishing during the initial investigation, though a statement taken from another source indicated Davis had been back for a month, according to Rice’s summary.

At the time, the most recently deceased animal was taken to the North Carolina Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System in Raleigh for a necropsy to determine cause of death. According to the veterinarian who performed the examination, that particular dog died of starvation, and at a minimum, would have had to go without food and water for two weeks, Rice explained.

As one condition of Davis’ two-year probation, he is not allowed to own or possess any dogs.

The dog that was found severely emaciated, curled up and tied to a stake but still living, was taken in by animal control and has since been rescued and is doing well, Rice said.