Town addresses issue in the wake of the Waxhaw tragedy
A recent tragedy in Waxhaw has the town of Stallings re-evaluating its animal-control policies.
The dog attack that killed 5-year-old Makayla Woodward sparked discussion among the town council members Tuesday, Feb. 15, regarding what measures the town should take to reduce the likelihood of animal attacks.
Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton said animal-control policies have been a longstanding concern for the town residents, with the girl’s death igniting renewed interest. But she acknowledged, “We really do not have an effective policy regarding animals.”
Stallings Police Chief Michael Dummett addressed the council with public concerns in reference to animal attacks. Dummett said he does not feel that the police department has an effective means of dealing with animal-control issues.
According to Dummett, the police department received a call on Jan. 18 from a man who had been chased by four pit bulls. The man was ready to shoot the dogs but waited for the police officers to arrive. They found the man pointing his gun at the animals.
But Dummett was concerned about the report he got from his officers. The report was vague and did not take the issue seriously enough, Dummett said.
“There was nothing in our report that says we even talked to the guy (who called),” he said. “Due to the severity of the call, what we wrote in our report wasn’t enough.”
Dummett offered the council two alternatives:
• Fund a new animal-control officer for the department. This would be costly but Stallings would have its own officer to respond to situations immediately.
• Work with other Union County towns to share funding of an animal-control officers. Though considerably less expensive for Stallings, the town would not always have the officer immediately available.
“Because Stallings is such a small town, we would get the smallest piece if we shared an animal-control officer position,” Dummett said.
To adequately meet animal-control needs, Stallings would have to do more than just create a position, the chief said. The department would need kennels and other facilities to house animals until officers could move them to a shelter.
Stallings would also have to search for the right person to fill the position. According to Dummett, police are trained to shoot and generally have no experience dealing with hostile animals.
“Animal-control people usually have a different type of personality,” he said. “They are usually animal lovers. I can’t say that I’m an animal lover. I don’t even have a fish.”
Paxton also said the town might sponsor rabies clinics so residents could easily have their pets vaccinated. Dummett agreed with that idea and saying it wouldn’t cost much.
But some still offered reservations about getting into animal control. Town Manager Brian Matthews said he doesn’t wanting to lead citizens to believe the town has adequate means of dealing with animal control when it really doesn’t.
“Please understand, at this point, our officers are not trained, nor are they equipped, to handle animal-control situations,” he said. “I don’t want people to think we’re going to just show up and remove animals.”
Dummett echoed Matthews’ sentiments. “Animal control sounds great, but how would citizens pay?” he said.
The town council made no decisions Tuesday, but Paxton said she plans to raise the topic at the Feb. 25 planning conference.
Stallings’ current ordinance says the mayor can appoint an animal control officer, who would directly answer to the mayor. “I don’t want to do that,” Paxton said with a chuckle. “I’d be held responsible for everything.”
Golf tournament to raise donations
Looking to help Makayla Woodward’s family pay for mounting bills, one local golf club will hold a fundraising tournament March 26.
Carolina Crossing Golf Club in York, S.C., will hold the Makayla Woodward Golf Tournament, starting at 8:30 a.m. The tournament is the brainchild of employee Dana Harris, who said she just wanted to lend a hand.
“We heard about the little girl and her uncle, Robert Frady, is a golfer here, so we just wanted to help in any way we could,” Harris said. “The family didn’t really have the money to take care of (Makayla’s) funeral expenses, and the grandmother also has hospital bills to deal with.”
On Jan. 12, two pit bulls attacked and killed Woodard, when she walked out of her house at 324 Rehobeth Road in Waxhaw to play with her own dogs. The pit bulls also seriously injured Makayla’s grandmother, Nancy Presson, when she tried to rescue the girl, leading Waxhaw police officers to shoot the dogs. Presson has since returned home.
Harris, who has two kids, said she couldn’t imagine losing one so young.
“I have a little boy who was injured in a hunting accident,” Harris said. “I can’t imagine what the family is going through, but we want to help.”
Those looking to register for the tournament can do so by visiting www.carolinacrossinggc.com and filling out the forms available there. The cost is $60 per player for the four-member team, captain’s choice tournament. Any money left over after the family’s bills are covered will go to the Levine Children’s Hospital, Harris said.
Additionally, the Woodward family has set up a fund where people can donate, one to help with Makayla’s funeral costs and another to pay Makayla’s headstone. People can send in donations to Davis Funeral Home, 1003 E Franklin St., Monroe NC 28112. For more information, people can also call the funeral home at 04-289-4242.