DOBSON — A 15-year-old county teen has landed in hot water after threatening the staff of Surry County Animal Control with physical violence, Sheriff Graham Atkinson said yesterday.
According to Atkinson, at about 11:15 a.m. Friday, deputies with the sheriff’s office received a call from the county “that an unknown male subject had called and communicated a specific threat of violence to the shelter staff.”
Shelter staff immediately went into lockdown as a precautionary measure and were pulled from the building for nearly three hours, according to Thomas Williams, spokesman for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees county shelter operations.
As a result of the report, deputies were dispatched to the Dobson shelter to investigate.
Following the investigation, the sheriff filed a juvenile petition against the 15-year-old county male for communicating a threat.
Atkinson said the incident began after a family put a pet up for adoption at the shelter.
“The best I can tell you is that this family had put up a pet for adoption and found out that (it) had been euthanized,” he said. “There was a female adult at the residence who had called the shelter and was very irate with them about it.”
Atkinson said he couldn’t be sure which animal was involved.
After shelter officials spoke with the adult female, Atkinson said the teen came on the line using profanity and threatening the staff at the facility.
“He came on the phone and communicated a verbal threat of physical harm to the staff at the shelter,” he said.
The initial call to police came from the Surry County Government Center after shelter employees reported the incident to their supervisors, according to the sheriff.
“We were able to make contact with the caller and establish that it wasn’t a very imminent threat that he had the capacity to carry out,” Atkinson said, noting that the entire incident may have simply been a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the teen.
“It seemed like an emotional reaction from the kid,” he said. “But because there was a threat communicated we went ahead and issued the juvenile petitions.”
Atkinson said this is the first time physical violence has been threatened against the animal shelter that he can remember.
“We’ve had animal control officers threatened when they go to a home to pick up a dog, but never at the shelter itself in my career,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.