LANSING-Ashe County Sheriff James Williams confirmed Sunday afternoon that one of the dogs owned by a Lansing man at the center of an ongoing animal rights controversy has been reported as stolen.
That dog was a small pug owned by Daniel Cruz of Lansing, Williams said.
“(Ashe County Animal Control Director Joe Testerman) called me this morning and said that a pug that had been on the property had been reported as stolen,” Williams said. “I think the chain, the dog, everything was taken. Joe asked us if we’d help and we said sure.”
Williams said the situation was reported to his office at 9 a.m. on April 10.
“Our deputies went down and it’ll be handed over to a general crimes investigator sometime tomorrow,” Williams said. “A stolen dog case is a rarity with us. Once in a while one will come through but it’s tough to prove unless you just happen to walk into someone’s house and the stolen dog is sitting right there. It is, however, a larceny just like any other.”
The Cruz property has been a subject of local and national controversy for more than two months after local animal rights activist Lisa Fitzpatrick, who also goes by Lisa Neyland DeLaurentiis Fitzpatrick, published a viral video of animals living on the property in early February. Many viewers believed the animals, including multiple at least five dogs and multiple roosters, were being abused by the property owner. The video was watched more than 80,000 times in less than 48 hours.
Fitzpatrick was later charged with second degree trespassing. That charge was later dismissed.
She has since launched calls for an outside investigation of the property and for Testerman’s dismissal. County leaders, including Ashe County Manager Sam Yearick and multiple members of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, have voiced their support for Testerman.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.