York County animal control officials are investigating a potential case of animal neglect and abuse after a chained and apparently malnourished German shepherd attacked and ate a puppy that wandered within its reach.
Rock Hill Police were patroling Green Street on Thursday when Annie Bratton flagged down the officers and told them the chained German shepherd in the neighbor's backyard attacked and ate a pit bull puppy belonging to her niece, according to a Rock Hill Police report.
"She hadn't even took him (the puppy) home yet," Bratton said. "She'd just got him."
"I had never seen nothing like that before in my life," Bratton said. "He's really starving. I really feel sorry for the dog because it's not the dog's fault."
When the German shepherd grabbed the puppy, Bratton said she yelled and beat the ground with a stick, but it did no good.
When police went into the backyard, they saw the dog eating the puppy, according to the report. The German shepherd appeared malnourished. Its ribs were visible, the report stated.
The dog was chained to the back of the house with a thick metal chain, and it had no shelter or visible food or water. The owner was not home. Rock Hill Police informed York County Animal Control about the incident with plans to follow up.
The concern for both agencies is the condition of the animal. Because the puppy wandered into the yard with the German shepherd, there will be no charges related to that incident, officials report.
York County's animal control ordinance requires that tethered dogs have food, water and shelter.
On Friday, animal control officers went to the house and saw the German shepherd and two additional dogs in pens, said Jerry Wilson, assistant director of public works. Animal control is a division of public works.
The owner was not home. Animal control officers left messages for the owner to call so they could determine the condition of the animals, Wilson said.
Bratton said the owner is seldom home. He returns to leave food for the dogs and then leaves again, she said.
Jerry Wilson said if the owner cannot be reached by Monday, animal control officials will "seek assistance from the court" to get a warrant to remove the German shepherd.
This isn't the first time the Rock Hill man has been involved in an animal-related incident at the same address. In 2008, he was issued a citation after his German shepherd broke free and attacked a 3-year-old boy next door, biting the child around his naval and causing bleeding, according to a Rock Hill Police report.
Wilson couldn't say if there would be charges until after animal control investigates.