PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Animal Control officials are speaking out against people who say the department isn't doing its job when it comes to keeping animals safe, but some rescuers say they asked for help and didn't get it.
"No one likes to wake up in the morning and see animal control fails to do its job," said Jack Griffith, Pender Health DEPT Director. "Especially if animal control did not fail to do its job."
Griffith said the department did not know about the ten malnourished horses that were rescued from a farm in Surf City earlier this month.
He says Animal Control did received a complaint regarding three horses, but after checking the animals his department felt there wasn't enough evidence to seize them.
"We didn't know about the other horses in the pastures we had no search warrants and no reason to go on the owner's of that property properties," said Griffith.
Griffith said he didn't know the Topsail Humane Society and sheriff's deputies seized the horses until he read about it in the newspaper. He said if he would have known, then his department would have helped.
"In matter of fact they would have got a warrant and worked with anyone legally," said Griffith.
Michael Lewis with the Pender County Sheriff's Office told WECT he called Animal Control from the pasture that day, and talked to Steve Thronburg, the supervisor. Thronburg told him he had seen the three horses and they were thin, but there wasn't anything he could do.
When Lewis realized Animal Control was not coming out to help he called Topsail Humane Society to help him rescue the animals.
Shortly after, Sgt. Lewis was demoted to deputy.
"Anytime we take any disciplinary action we always look at the entirety of the employment all the actions the employee has," said Sheriff Carson Smith. "Not ever do we look at one event."
The court case for the horses' owners was continued until next month.