WEST JEFFERSON-In response to an online social media movement that is calling for the termination of Ashe County Animal Control Director Joe Testerman, his supporters have now launched a counter attack in the form of an online petition to save the director’s job.
County officials have made no indication, however, that Testerman’s job is in jeopardy.
The petition, which is titled “Save the Job of Joe Testerman, Ashe County’s Animal Control Director,” can be found on change.org.
It is a counter to a request by Lisa Fitpatrick, who is asking citizens to write-in to county commissioners, asking for Testerman’s termination.
Fitzpatrick’s disapproval for Testerman’s performance as animal control director stems from her disagreement over his final report of a probe his department led of the alleged abuse of three beagles in Lansing on the property of Daniel Cruz.
“After a month long investigation and a report submitted to their (the county’s) office there is evidence directly contradicting his findings which is being released to media in one week…Mr. Testerman should be terminated or put on suspension while an inquiry is done on how he handled and covered up the Daniel Cruz situation,” Fitzpatrick was quoted as saying in a post on her Facebook profile.
Fitzpatrick’s rallying call follows the fallout from a viral video she posted on Feb. 4 that eventually led to her arrest on trespassing charges.
In that video, it appears to show a person walking up to a chain link enclosure that includes three barking dogs sitting on the roof of a doghouse. The property and dogs in question belong to Cruz.
Fitzpatrick’s trespassing charge was eventually dropped, but the controversy has not despite the findings of animal control.
After a month of investigation that consisted of frequent impromptu checks of the property and the animals in question, Testerman told the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on March 7 that, in accordance with the law, his department found no evidence of mistreatment of animals by Cruz.
“Animal control has been monitoring these seven dogs and chickens for one month and has established evidence that Mr. Cruz is maintaining his animals in conditions that are acceptable by law,” said Testerman. “Mr. Cruz has been very cooperative and has been very receptive to all of my requests. At this time Dan Cruz is deemed in compliance with Ashe County Ordinances and N.C. General Statutes.”
As of Sunday afternoon, Testerman’s petition had more than 650 supporters.
Those who have signed the petition showed overwhelming support for his performance.
“I feel like Joe is doing a super job and you have these jerks who come in and try to run everything and when someone goes against them they try to do their best to get rid of the good people so they can get someone who will go along with their stupidity,” said Rosa Price of Creston. “Leave Joe alone and get rid of them.”
Other signers have said that the issue at hand has nothing to do with Testerman and everything to do with the ordinances currently in place.
“I am very much an animal lover,” said Cindy Lewis of Jefferson. “It saddens me to see animals mistreated. I do not know Joe personally, however, he must love animals to do the job he does for the small salary he receives. He does not make the laws, he merely has to carry out his duties within the confines of those laws. I’m sure many times he has seen situations he would have liked to do more to help the animals! Until law are changed , he is limited as to what he can do to help.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.