Last week, reports on social media caused a lot of emotion around the community when images of a deceased pet pig made rounds. We did reach out to Clay County Sheriff's Office to get the official press release concerning their investigation. Here is that press release from Clay County Sheriff's Office.
On Thursday, 01/10/2019 the Clay County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an incident that occurred on the previous Sunday. The complainant alleged the intentional killing of a family “pet” pig and cited a previous incident where the pet was injured with pellets from a gunshot. At this time the complainant believed this to be a retaliatory act stemming from the previous incident. Images of the animal being processed had been posted online and were being represented as the results of a legal hunt and harvest of a Feral Swine. The Complainant had been made aware of the images being posted online and ultimately brought the matter to the attention of law enforcement.
Previously on 11/26/2018 a report had been filed documenting an incident involving these same residents and the same animal. On this occasion law enforcement was called in after an altercation that ended with accusations of trespassing and ultimately resulted in an assault. At that time, it was reported that the animal was found to be on the property of another and was responsible for damages to the property. Upon the owner retrieving the animal, an altercation ensued. According to statements received by law enforcement, multiple attempts had been made by the affected party(s) to the owner of the animal to take steps to prevent any further incidents. Neither party at that time chose to pursue criminal charges and the matter was concluded with each side being advised to not have any further contact.
At this time the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission have discovered information that this incident is not a criminal matter. North Carolina General Statute Chapter 113-129(5c) defines Feral Swine as “Free-ranging mammals of the species Sus scrofa”. In this instance, the animal in question could not legally be classified as anything other than Feral Swine due to the lack of an adequate enclosure. This was evident by the frequency of known “free ranging” incidents accounted to officers during their inquiry by members of the Cold Branch Community. Adequate enclosure being defined as one that, at a minimum, effectively prevents the animal from free ranging as much as it protects the animal from becoming exposed to other free ranging Feral Swine, among others. According to NC Wildlife officers, the manner in which this animal was harvested was also legal and did not violate any laws.
It is unfortunate that this family has lost its pet and we want to express our empathy over their loss. Additionally, we understand how the community has been impacted over this incident and want to assure all involved that the matter has been thoroughly investigated by state and local law enforcement.
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