Assistant district attorney recommends dog have vocal cords removed, owner says

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:21 PM EDT
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GRAHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) – A North Carolina man has a number of citations because of his dog’s loud barking. He was stunned when he heard a plea deal from the district attorney’s office to solve the problem involved putting his pet under the knife.

Leo is a 7-year-old Great Pyrenees. As the saying goes, his bark is worse than his bite. But that bark landed him in some trouble with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Eddings is Leo’s owner. He said Leo’s bark can be very loud because he’s a big dog.

“Leo’s bark does travel, but it’s just because he’s 120 pounds,” he said.

Graham County doesn’t define quiet hours in their noise ordinance. It just specifies between noise considered disturbing versus unnecessary. Both criteria state a noise shouldn’t be audibly clear at a distance of more than 50 feet from the noise source.

Eddings said following he’s racked up $750 in noise violation citations and attorney fees following complaints from neighbors. He said he feels his family is being unfairly targeted.

“I have a neighbor that has three or four dogs that bark,” he said. “My neighbor across the street has a dog that barks, so I think singling us out for one dog is a little ridiculous.”

The citations stacked up, leading to a court appearance Tuesday where Eddings was stunned to hear what a representative from the district attorney’s office offered.

“He said that if you have the vocal cords removed surgically, they would drop all charges,” he said. “It’s crazy, it’s inhumane.”

District Attorney Ashley Welch confirmed that an assistant DA did suggest surgically altering the dog’s vocal cords as a possible solution to violating the noise ordinance.

“Whether offered in jest or seriousness, the suggestion was inappropriate,” Welch said. “I am unable to offer additional comment, as this is now a personnel matter.”

Leo is still not off the hook, however. Neither is Eddings. He’s got another court date in October.

Until then, Eddings said he’s willing to negotiate.

“We’ll put up a fence, things like that, but I’m not going to put on a barking collar and I’m not going to have surgery,” he said.

Graham County Sheriff Jerry Crisp confirmed deputies have issued several citations to Eddings for both the dog’s barking and for loud music. He said that there have been no other complaints from neighbors since the last citation.

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