Sergeant says he was demoted for helping malnourished animals

Reported by Laura Sinacori - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A sergeant with the Pender County Sheriff's Department said he was demoted for helping some malnourished animals.

Now, members of the Topsail Humane Society are planning to speak on behalf of sergeant Michael Lewis, and do what they can to support him.

Lewis said he lost rank, and pay, because of what he did to help some suffering horses and dogs.

"In regards to personnel matters we are bound by law, we can't discuss personnel issues," said Major Keith Hinkle.

According to Kathy Lewis (no relation) with the Topsail Humane Society, Michael called her last month asking her to help him rescue some malnourished horses and dogs.

The owners were charged with animal cruelty, but shortly after the incident, Michael was demoted to deputy.

Michael told WECT he was previously told not to have anything to do with the animals, and to have animal control handle all animal cases.

Kathy Lewis said Michael told her he was demoted because he disobeyed orders.

"He was demoted for insubordination is my understanding," said Kathy.  "I believe he said that his captain had told him previously to leave the animals to animal control which would work out great if animal control had enough manpower to actually answer every call, but they don't."

Major Hinkle said animal issues have to go through animal control first.

"It's not that we don't like animals or anything of that nature," said Hinkle.  "Our primary function is to respond to calls, serve papers, do investigative reports, granted if there is we run across a situation like that then it is to be forwarded to animal control because that is their realm."

Kathy said she thinks Michael should be commended for a job well done.  She also said the ten horses and eight dogs they rescued are recovering.

Michael said he is grateful for the support he received from the community, and if any funds are raised in his name, he wants them to benefit the animals.

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