Sheriff responds to animal cruelty accusation

The Jackson County sheriff has responded to a social media post accusing his department of animal cruelty.

A Facebook post by Seymour resident Denny Oakes on Thursday drew a lot of comments and reactions.

In the post, he said as he was delivering some stone in Vallonia, a couple of dogs playing in a yard came over to him and wanted attention. He said a woman at the home told him one of the dogs had been abandoned and she called the sheriff’s department to take it to Red Sky Rescue in Medora or the pound.

When he returned with a second load of stone, Oakes said a sheriff’s officer was at the home. Before Oakes got out of his vehicle, he said he heard the officer fire his weapon, killing the dog instantly.

Oakes said the dog was not aggressive and was very playful with him, so he didn’t understand why the officer shot the dog.

“He had a cage in the back of his truck,” Oakes wrote in the post. “I noticed a long pole with a noose on it made to handle aggressive dogs, too. And I do not believe the dog deserved to die like this.”

Oakes also said there were two young children in the yard that witnessed the incident.

“I look at this as pure animal cruelty,” Oakes wrote. “The dog didn’t have a chance.”

He also noted a Norman man being in jail after recently killing his cousin’s dog.

“It’s sad we live in a world that has no common sense when it comes to animals,” Oakes wrote.

In a Facebook post Friday, Sheriff Rick Meyer said the facts about the incident were not even close to the story Oakes shared on Facebook.

“In fact, the man who posted on Facebook had no clue what had taken place, and several of his accusations couldn’t be further from the truth,” Meyer wrote. “I’m not going to say the man is lying, but he does not have all the facts and has filled in a lot of blanks with his own assumptions.”

Meyer said he looked into the incident Friday morning and learned an employee of the Jackson County Highway Department was involved in an incident with the dog Wednesday while trying to pick up a high water sign on Water Street in Vallonia. Meyer said the employee was in fear the dog was going to attack him.

Meyer said he sent Chief Deputy Dustin Steward and Lt. Adam Nicholson to Vallonia to speak to a woman who had reported the incident involving the county highway employee to animal control on Thursday while making her own complaint about the dog being aggressive and in her yard.

Meyer said Steward and Nicholson recorded the conversation they had with the woman.

“The facts were not even close to the story the man posted on Facebook about my department,” Meyer said. “The post said there were two young kids in the yard that witnessed the incident, and the lady who called said there were not any kids present at any time during the incident.”

Meyer also disputed Oakes’ reference of the two dogs in the woman’s yard playing and coming over to him wanting attention.

“It’s impossible for the dog in question to have been either of the dogs he is referring to because according to the lady who called the sheriff’s department, the dog had been shot prior to him arriving at her residence,” Meyer said.

The woman mentioned to dispatch when she originally called the sheriff’s department that the dog in question was in her yard and messing with her dogs, Meyer said.

“The lady said she was afraid the dog was going to hurt her dogs,” Meyer said. “The lady also said she had video of the dog being aggressive toward her brother prior to her calling for help.”

Meyer also said the woman didn’t mention Red Sky Rescue when she called dispatch. He learned that when he listened back to the phone call.

“During the phone call, you can hear the lady yelling at the dog in question and tell the dispatcher she was afraid the dog was going to hurt her dogs,” Meyer said.

He said the sheriff’s department has the resources to take animals to Red Sky Rescue without harm in most situations.

In this incident, however, that was attempted but was unsuccessful due to the dog’s aggressive nature, Meyer said.

“Had the dog gotten away, it would have put the people living in the area at risk,” he said. “I make the safety of our community members a top priority in all situations, and after personally investigating this case, I know that the right decision was made no matter how unpopular it may appear.”

With the animal cruelty accusation, Meyer said his department does not condone the killing of innocent animals.

“Unfortunately, some situations require a stronger response than others to keep the citizens of Jackson County and my officers safe,” Meyer said.

He encourages people with questions about any incident with the sheriff’s department to just call and ask.

“We have worked hard to create a positive image by interacting more with the community, and posts like this do nothing but damage our hard work and our community,” Meyer said.

On Friday, Oakes posted that he received a call from Meyer and was informed he should report incidents to the sheriff’s department, not Facebook.

“I will apologize to Facebook friends if they believe my story not being true. But I will not apologize for what I seen and heard from the lady that lived at the house,” Oakes wrote. “Why she told a complete different story is beyond me. End of story.”

Oakes said he simply reported what he saw and believed it to be wrong.

“It’s time to move on and hope that all of you will support animal rescue groups,” he wrote. “The sheriff’s department has checked into it and have reached their decision. I do not want to stir up anything more with the sheriff’s department. Thank you all again.”