Jacksonville couple facing felony animal cruelty charges

Damien Irvin, left, and Samantha Wesche (Photos courtesy of Onslow County Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - A Jacksonville couple had their first appearance in court on Monday after being arrested Friday on animal cruelty charges.

Lance Cpl. Damian Irvin, 21, and 19-year-old Samantha Wesche are charged with two counts each of felony animal cruelty and 45 misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals. This stems from an anonymous tip that led Onslow County Animal Services investigators to seize 45 animals from the couple's home on Forbes Estate Drive on Friday.

From the home, animal services workers recovered 31 dogs, 13 cats and a pig. One dog was found dead at the scene and another was convulsing and had to be put down immediately. Two dead cats were found in a freezer.

The director of Onslow County Animal Services said the home did not have air conditioning and the animals lacked proper food and water. OCAS has assumed care for the animals, none of which are available for adoption yet.

A neighbor of the couple said it was hard to know so many animals lived at the home.

"They were very quiet. You'd never see them out," neighbor Samantha Porter told NewsChannel 12. "You never see them walking the dogs. Taking them anywhere. Nothing like that."

Wesche and Irvin declined to comment on the charges against them following their first appearance. Investigators say the case remains open and more charges remain possible.

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