|David Allen Watts||keeping 77 sheep in his home in squalor||Apex, NC||March 26, 2007|
(Photo courtesy of The News & Observer) Watts shared his downtown home with 77 sheep and has been charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty.
(Photo courtesy of John Rottet, The News & Observer) 30 sheep were so neglected and ill that they had to be euthanized. Many had deep infections into the bones of their feet, some even had deep abscesses on their chests from dragging themselves to get around without walking on their painful feet.
(Jeannie Shook, a control supervisor with Wake County Animal Control, puts out water under a tarp for three of the rescued sheep. Photo courtesy of John Rottet, The News & Observer) When told the county would start the legal process to seize the sheep, Watts agreed to give up his flock. The remaining sheep are now under the care of veterinarians and Wake County Animal Control. Half were trucked to the county's shelter in Raleigh, while the rest relocated to a local farm where the agency sometimes boards livestock.
(Photos courtesy of John Rottet, The News & Observer) center photo is of David Watts carrying feed through the stockyard at his Chatham County lambing station south of Pittsboro
The condition of the sheep was so bad that some in the flock had never had their hooves trimmed. In fact they were grown so long they curled back around under the bottoms of the feet, resulting in open, infected sores that cause the sheep to walk on their knees.
Sheep skulls and bones were scattered in the small backyard pens where the animals died and were left to rot. Several other sheep and newborn lambs decomposing carcasses were found in a nearby compost pile.
(Photo courtesy of WRAL TV) Wake County animal-control now have possession of the sheep which will be up for adoption as soon as they are deemed healthy.
Records show that since 2000, Apex and Wake County Animal Control made numerous visits to Watts' house at 205 W. Moore St., following dozens of complaints about flies, noise and the feces stench. In June 2005, officials responded to 5 sheep-related complaints at the residency and found no problems. However officials stated they saw no signs of serious trouble until earlier this month and had only seen up to 20 sheep at the residence.
Watts was caught because some of the sheep had escaped his home and migrated over to the cemetery to eat the plants and vegetation.
(Photo courtesy of John Rottet, The News & Observer) Sometimes he was seen walking some of the sheep down the street on a leash. Watts considered the sheep his pets and lived upstairs while the sheep lived downstairs in his 1910 2,200-square- foot- wood- framed home Watts has owned the property since 1990.
A 2nd investigation has been opened in Chatham County, because 60 more sheep owned by Watts along with 2 cows, 3 chickens, a dog and 2 llamas were found on Watt's Moncure property. The veterinarians sent to check on the sheep stated they also have foot problems but not as bad as the conditions of the sheep living in Watts home.
Apex has no ordinance that forbids residents from keeping livestock. Mayor Keith Weatherly said the situation at Watts' home had spurred the Town Council to consider such a measure last year, but that the lawyers had not yet returned to the council with a draft ordinance.
Trish Creta, Watts' next door neighbor for 3 years had complained as recently as January about the flies and the smell. She was told that Watts was in compliance with town ordinances and that she needed to hire a lawyer because there wasn't anything they could do.
Watts is being held in the Wake jail in lieu of $30,000 bond. Watts said he started raising sheep about a decade ago.
On Wednesday 3/27/07 Watts bond was reduced to $12,000. Watts who is a land speculator and owns land across NC is expected to be able to meet this new bond.
If convicted Watts faces up to 45 days in jail on each count (30).
The News & Observer
The Charlotte Observer
The Manchester Union Leader