By Sherry Matthews Editor
February 19, 2014
A 68-year-old Sampson County man found himself in trouble with law enforcement Monday after he abandoned two dogs behind the Animal Shelter and then left the scene, apparently inebriated even as he drove his vehicle away from the premises.
What started out as an attempt to do what law enforcement officers called “the right thing,” turned into a bad decision that only got worse before Jasper Ray “Rusty” Barber, of 1705 Pope Road, Clinton, was charged late in the day Monday.
He now faces two misdemeanor charges of animal abandonment, leveled by the Sampson Sheriff’s Department’s animal control division, and one count of driving while impaired, leveled by a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper.
According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Jessica Kittrell, the incident began just before 2 p.m. when officers were alerted by staff at the county’s animal shelter that a man had come to surrender two of his dogs but didn’t have a current ID with him at the time.
“State law requires those who are surrendering an animal to show a current ID or current N.C. driver’s license. If they don’t have it, the shelter can’t take the animals,” the animal control officer said.
Shelter staff informed Barber of this, refusing to take the animals until the current ID was shown.
“At that point, Mr Barber said ‘I’ll take care of this problem,’ left the shelter, got in his vehicle and drove behind the shelter and turned the dogs out into an open field.”
Kittrell, who was working with city animal officer Kevin Herring and Sheriff’s Cpl. Andrew Worley to investigate a bite call on King Road, contacted officers in the area to begin looking for Barber and an employee, reportedly with him throughout the incident.
“The officers’ attempt to locate him was unsuccessful,” Kittrell said, “so we spread out.”
Herring, searching in the area of Open Arms Church on U.S. 421 south near Pearson Road, spotted a vehicle that fit the description animal shelter employees had given them, pulled in the back corner of the church.
“We verified it was the vehicle and then we went back there and escorted Mr. Barber and his employee back to the shelter,” Kittrell said.
Noticing what she called a “strong smell of alcohol” on the two men, who by this time had acknowledged they had taken turns driving the vehicle, officers called for a portable alco-senser which Highway Patrol Trooper R. Williams administered on Barber.
Reports note that Barber registered a .16 on scene. He was immediately taken into custody, placed under a $2,000 bond for the animal abandonment charges and released.
Trooper Williams leveled the DWI charge against Barber but no bond information was available.
Both dogs, Kittrell said, were found, but she noted the “poor shape” they were in.
“All of this could have been avoided if he had come back with a valid ID,” she said. “He was trying to do the right thing, but then when he didn’t have the proper identification, he made a poor choice.”