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A wolf-dog mix caged in the backyard of a home in Bluffton howls at the moon and has neighborhood residents worried the animal is being abused. Others are concerned the animal might be dangerous.
Beaufort County Animal Control officers say they will not comment on the animal, citing an ongoing investigation, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh. Officers are to meet with Nick Turner, the animal's owners, this week, McIntosh said Tuesday.
County dispatchers have received at least nine animal-related calls since May 18 from Baywood residents complaining of an animal running loose or a disturbance coming from the home on Baywood Drive, according to sheriff's records.
Turner said he has been working with Animal Control officers to make sure the animal, a male wolf-dog mix named Shadow, is healthy and up-to-date on all of his vaccinations. Turner said he has the dog up for adoption because he's struggled in the past few months to make ends meet.
"He's healthy, but I need to get him to the vet to get the papers saying he's OK," Turner said. "It's just been recently that I've not been able to give the dog all the time and everything he needs."
On Friday, a neighbor called dispatchers to report the animal might have been abandoned, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report.
The deputy also found the dog in a kennel covered with "diarrhea feces." A bag of dog food had been left in the kennel, but "numerous bugs" were inside the bag, the report said.
The deputy tried calling Turner several times but was unable to reach him. The deputy also contacted an Animal Control officer, who said she would go to the home the next day to investigate, the report said.
Turner said he was out of town last week and asked family members to care for the animal.
On June 17, a neighbor called Animal Control to complain about the condition of the animal several times but received no response, according to a Sheriff's Office report.
The woman told a deputy the "wolf dog" howls "all the time" and is left in a cage, sometimes without food or water. She told deputies she and another neighbor often left food for the dog because he was "so skinny."
Turner said the breed often sheds fur during the summer.
The deputy reported that the dog was housed in a fenced-in cage too small for his 100-pound frame. There was water for the animal in a large container, but it did not appear to be fresh, the report said.
Turner said the dog is on a raw meat and dog food diet and that the absence of food does not mean he's neglected to feed the animal.
Turner also said the breed isn't dangerous.
"A lot of people don't like the idea of wolf dogs, but he isn't dangerous," he said. "It's a downhill battle. I didn't know he was affecting so many people."
Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LCBlotter.