The Wilkes Sheriff’s Department charged two men with animal cruelty in connection with a donkey being pulled with a vehicle down Elk Creek-Darby Road in the Ferguson community.
Deputy Zac Blevins reported that he arrested William Howard Tugman, 56, of Old North Road in Lenoir and Morris Wayne Huggins, 55, of Elk Creek-Darby Road. They were released from the Wilkes County Jail under secured bond of $500 each later Friday.
Wilkes Animal Control Director Junior Simmons said the donkey, now at the Wilkes Animal Shelter, has injuries that appear to have resulted from the animal being pulled down a paved road several hundred feet.
“His (four) hover are wore down to the quick” at an angle that indicated the donkey resisted, said Simmons. Injuries to the front of the donkey’s legs above his knees are consistent with the animal being dragged down the road after it went down, he said.
“He can walk but he is still having difficulty walking. He’s lying down a lot, but I feel sure he will recover with time,” said Simmons, adding that Dr. Rob Miller of Riverview Animal Hospital in North Wilkesboro, a veterinarian, is treating the donkey.
Simmons said the donkey’s owner hasn’t been determined and that it would remain in custody of the Wilkes Animal Control Department until court officials ordered otherwise. He said the donkey is between 2 and 3 years old.
Blevins said he, Sgt. Joven Greene and a Wilkes Animal Control officer went to Elk Creek-Darby Road after Blevins received a report of someone dragging a donkey down the road about 10:11 a.m. Friday.
Blevins said they met Mike McNeil at the intersection of Elk Creek-Darby Road and Kendall Town Road and that McNeil stated he put the donkey in his pasture beside the road.
Blevins said he saw several puddles of what he thought was blood and bloody hoof prints from an animal being dragged down the asphalt surface of Elk Creek-Darby Road.
While the officers were investigating, he said, a woman who lives in Ferguson told them she saw a suspect dragging the donkey down the road.
Blevin said that while officers were directing traffic around the scene, Greene stopped one of the suspects when he appeared.
When the two suspects talked to officers, Blevins continued, they said they had pulled the donkey out of the roadway with a vehicle. When asked if they knew anything about a donkey being dragged down the road, he said, they both admitted to pulling the donkey on the road.
Both smelled strongly of alcohol and admitted to drinking that morning, he reported.
An open beer can that was cool and contained what apparently was beer was found behind the driver’s seat of the suspects’ vehicle.