• Residents respond after animal control director placed on leave

    By: Catherine Bilkey

    Updated:

    IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - The director of animal control in Iredell County is being investigated and has been put on paid leave. The deputy county manager has taken over as head of animal control in the interim.

    Eyewitness News learned that an anonymous letter was sent to county commissioners, complaining about the shelter. And Channel 9 has talked to residents who say they've seen misconduct firsthand.

    "It was just senseless," dog owner Penny Phifer said. "It was just absolutely senseless."

    Phifer said her dog Spike had gotten into a neighbor's crawlspace and a square piece of wood became stuck around his head. She said it didn't hurt him, but he panicked when people tried to take it off. She was going to pay for a mobile vet, but animal control saw the dog first and offered to take care of it. Her neighbor took pictures of what they did.

    "They said they had darted him, and that he was taken in and that the owner knew," Alan Greenlief said. "And I said, 'He looks like he's dead.'"

    Spike didn't make it.

    Phifer said Director Chris Royal called her and told her that her dog was dead, but it may have died because of poor health.

    Phifer insists Spike was healthy.

    "They haven't been back," Phifer said.

    Eyewitness News tried to find out from county commissioners if Spike's case is related to the anonymous letter and current investigation. Eyewitness News has not been able to confirm that it is.

    Thursday Eyewitness News was told Royal is accused of euthanizing animals that should not have been.

    "You hope that any allegations of this nature were untrue," Commissioner Renee Griffith said.

    According to the county manager, Royal has had no major problems or complaints until the anonymous letter.

    Eyewitness News was told Royal is the only member of the animal control department on paid leave. Calls to Royal's cellphone have not been returned.


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