Animal cruelty suspect could face more charges

By: By Chris Berendt -

A man charged with well over a dozen counts of animal cruelty last week could be facing more charges, including a felony, after one of the dogs had to be euthanized due to the extent of its malnourishment, according to Sampson County Animal Control.

“One of the dogs was in really bad shape and he may have been starved to death,” Sgt. Jessica Kittrell, who leads the Animal Control unit, said of one of the eight canines seized from a Nutmeg Lane property in Clinton Friday.

There were seven Pit bulls and one German Shepherd transported to the Sampson County Animal Shelter following the investigation by Animal Control officers, who discovered eight malnourished dogs, along with firearms, at the residence. The animals were seized and a man taken into custody.

Leon Taylor Jr., 46, of 101 Nutmeg Lane, Lot C, Clinton, has been charged with 15 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, two counts of possession of firearm by felon and possession of weapon of mass destruction.

Taylor was taken into custody on warrants obtained by Sampson County Animal Control stemming from the investigation into animal cruelty. Animal Control officers observed a malnourished Pit bull tied up in the yard at the Nutmeg Lane residence on Friday. Further investigation by the officers found there were a total of eight malnourished canines on the property. Kittrell said there were multiple counts brought for each of the dogs.

The sergeant was responding to a call of a loose horse in the area of Nutmeg Lane when she saw what appeared to be a dog kennel on a nearby property, and then the emaciated canine.

“They were very, very neglected,” she said.

Animal Control officers obtained a search warrant and the animals were seized and transported to the Sampson Animal Shelter. During a search of the property, two firearms were seized — one weapon seized was a sawed-off shotgun, which is considered a weapon of mass destruction, bringing that charge.

Kittrell said the body of the Pit bull that had to be put down was transported to Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Raleigh, part of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, so a necropsy could be conducted. Further charges are pending the results of that examination, she said.

Sheriff’s officials noted that Taylor was a convicted felon. There is just one blemish on Taylor’s North Carolina record, a drug conviction from almost 20 years ago, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Taylor was placed under $32,000 unsecured bond and given a court date of Dec. 12.


By Chris Berendt

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.