Clayton Police arrested a 53-year-old Smithfield man this morning, charging him with animal cruelty after he moved away from a home in Downtown Clayton and reportedly left 4 dogs to die locked inside metal cages.
Neighbors alerted police to a foul smell coming from a home at 229 E. Stalling Street in Downtown Clayton. When officers went inside, they found three dead dogs inside their crates and the fourth, clinging to life.
Clayton’s Animal Control officer immediately rushed the dog to Clayton Animal Hospital, where doctors were forced to euthanize the animal to prevent further suffering. Two of the dead dogs were taken to NC State Veterinary Center for necropsies. The third dog was so decomposed it could not be tested and had to be deposed of.
Clayton Police Detectives investigated the incident and have charged Willis Wayne Hodges with 4 felony counts of animal cruelty. The home belonged to Hodge’s mother and when she passed away, he moved in with a woman, her adult son and their 4 dogs. All of them recently moved out to live in Smithfield. Investigators believe the dogs were left in the house for at least 4 weeks. Due to the conditions inside the home, 229 E. Stallings has been condemned by the Town of Clayton.
Hodges was arrested in the Smithfield city limits this morning without incident. He is currently being detained in the Johnston County Detention Center where he was given a $100,000 secured bond. Clayton Police detectives are continuing this investigation with the help of the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office and additional charges are pending.
Clayton Police would like the public to know that there is never a reason to leave a pet to die when you can no longer care for it. In the Clayton area especially, there are a huge number of resources and rescue organizations which work diligently to find homes for animals and place them with new families or in foster care on a daily basis. There is also Johnston County Animal Services, which accepts owner surrenders by appointment. That agency works in cooperation with area rescues to find homes for animals. Clayton Police also want the public to know that any reports of animal cruelty will be investigated and prosecuted accordingly.