Man charged with trying to poison dogs

Taco stuffed with pills, ham with powder
May. 24, 2013 @ 08:52 AM

Sue Clay calls her two Chihuahuas, miniature Doberman, Shih-tzu and old pit bull her babies. And she responded accordingly when she suspected that someone tried to poison them.

“My babies are all my husband and I have,” said Clay, 65, who lives with her husband, a disabled war veteran, off Grace View Place in Dudley Shoals. “They are close to our hearts, as children. We don’t want them hurt.”

She believes what happened was the result of a feud.

Her neighbor, 56-year-old Christopher Robert Murphy, a part-time instructor at the learning assistance center at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, was arrested early Wednesday on five counts of animal cruelty. Murphy could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Clay said her dispute with Murphy stems from an incident last month, when she swore out a complaint alleging that he exposed himself to her from his yard. Court records show Murphy was charged on April 22 with indecent exposure and has a court hearing scheduled May 30.

Clay said the first poisoning attempt happened May 15, when someone tossed a taco -- in which the ground been was stuffed with pills -- into a pen in her yard. By the time she found it, the dogs had eaten most of it, she said.

“They had been listless for days since then,” she said. "One threw up the taco.”

Among what the dogs didn't eat were some pills, and another neighbor, Mark Mays, said he examined one of them, saw numbers printed on the capsule and looked it up on the Internet, matching the number to Gabapentin, the generic name of the seizure medicine Neurontin.

Last Friday, May 17, Clay found that slices of ham stuffed with a white powder and fastened together with toothpicks had been tossed into a pen where her 12-year-old pit bull, Simba, often is kept, but Simba had not been able to reach it.

Clay said this time a video camera she had installed after the indecent exposure incident showed a person tossing the food into the pen.

“I turned it over to the sheriff’s office” the next day, she said.

Shannon Foster, a Caldwell County Animal Control field supervisor, said the white powder, believed to be rat poison, is being tested. He also said some toothpicks were placed inside the ham, as if to injure the mouth or throat of an animal that swallowed it.

“I just want justice for my babies that can’t fend for themselves,” Clay said.