A Crawford County couple on Thursday filed a lawsuit for damages sustained when they say officials forced them to decapitate their dog and take the head to the health department.
Joe Goodwin and Tosha Dacon are suing the county, Sheriff Lewis Walker and deputies James Hollis and Wesley Andrew Neesmith for $75,000 in connection with the Dec. 1 incident, according to the lawsuit.
"Under extreme emotional duress and distress, and under threat of incarceration and physical harm, Plaintiff Goodwin was forced to decapitate the dog with a knife," the lawsuit states.
Neesmith responded to a complaint about a dog on Wellington Drive. While Goodwin was at work, his 2-year-old dog, Big Boy, allegedly lunged at the deputy and Neesmith shot and killed the dog, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
Shortly thereafter, Hollis arrived and told Goodwin he’d have to cut the dead dog’s head off for rabies testing or face arrest, according to the lawsuit. He felt compelled to proceed and decapitated his pet in front of his children.
Afterward, Goodwin was “too emotionally and mentally distraught to comply and, therefore, Plaintiff Dacon was required to do so,” the lawsuit states.
In addition to the “great physical and mental pain and suffering,” which has required counseling, Goodwin lost his job as a result of the actions, the lawsuit states.
Hollis, who has a history of voluntary resignations and was previously fired from the Zebulon Police Department, was placed on administrative leave with pay during an internal investigation.
Goodwin regrets following the orders, but did as he was told because he was afraid of being shot or taken to jail. He also didn't think he could afford having a professional remove Big Boy's head for a fee, The AJC previously reported.
According to Walker, who is named in the suit, Goodwin was advised by the county health department about the options regarding the decapitation and testing.