HENDERSON — The past week has been a busy one for Vance County Animal Services, which is currently investigating a handful of animal cruelty cases toward dogs that have occurred in or around Henderson.

Chief of Animal Services Frankie Nobles said he is always disappointed and frustrated when these types of cases take place and is hoping to find enough evidence that can pinpoint individuals who were responsible for harming the dogs in question.

“In one case we found two animals that were deceased and tossed on the side of the road,” Nobles said. “We also had two that came in together really matted, so that’s four different dogs we’ve had this week.”

Although it is not uncommon for Animal Services to receive occasional calls about animal cruelty during a given month, Nobles said that four separate cases in one week is both unusual and concerning.

An article by The Science Times highlighted a correlation between the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in animal abuse cases back in May, so Nobles did not rule out economic hardships as a reason that contributed to the recent cases.

Nobles said that he and the rest of the staff at Animal Services are working hard on pressing charges, but he added that the process cannot effectively take place unless they find enough evidence to link a certain individual to the crime.

Nobles added that he is unsure if Animal Services will be able to track down the culprits without further assistance from the public, but he considers himself grateful that the two dogs with matted fur will have an opportunity to find a better home in the near future.

“We’ve got a reward out for the person responsible for the two dead dogs,” Nobles said. “Nobody has come forward yet with any information, but the two dogs in the shelter are getting ready for rescue. They’ve been pretty much shaved down, and we’re thankful that a rescue has pulled them for us.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate in Vance County and around North Carolina, Nobles is expecting more calls about animal cruelty to come in and is asking people to contact Animal Services if they see any abuse taking place.

“If citizens see cruelty, feel free to call and let us know,” Nobles said. “We can’t be everywhere and we depend on our community a whole lot to let us know if they see something that doesn’t look right.”

Residents who have information about the four dogs that were harmed over the last week can contact Animal Services at 252-492-3136.