Graham County District Attorney Ashley Welch said in a statement, “I do not condone, support or approve of his suggestion.”
Welch confirmed the assistant district attorney made the suggestion following a case involving a 7-year-old Great Pyrenees named Leo. Welch said Leo's excessive barking has violated a city noise ordinance multiple times. Welch initially said, "Whether offered in jest or seriousness, the suggestion was inappropriate."
Leo’s owner, Michael Eddings, said the dog doesn’t bark more than other dogs in the neighborhood.
“Leo’s bark does travel, but it’s just because he’s 120 pounds,” Eddings said. “I have a neighbor that has three or four dogs that bark. And my neighbor across the street has dogs that bark. So, I think singling us out for one dog is a little ridiculous.”
During Eddings' initial court appearance, he said he was stunned to hear what the assistant district attorney offered in terms of a plea deal.
“He said that if you have the vocal cords removed surgically, they would drop all charges,” Eddings said. “It’s crazy; it is inhumane.”
According to Graham County’s noise ordinance, quiet hours are not defined. The ordinance does specify between disturbing and unnecessary noise. Both criteria state a noise should not be clearly audible at a distance of more than 50 feet from the noise source.
Neither Leo nor Eddings is off the hook though. Eddings' next court appearance is scheduled for October.
“We’re willing to negotiate,” Eddings said. “We’ll put up a fence, things like that, but I’m not going to put on a barking collar and I’m not going to have surgery.”