More than 174,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker to fire investigator James Hollis for forcing a man to decapitate his deceased 2-year-old dog.
Crawford County resident Joe Goodwin said he was ordered to do so on Friday, Dec. 1 at the behest of Hollis and other deputies, who were worried Goodwin’s dog may have had rabies, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
Goodwin’s dog, a pit bull mix named Big Boy, was shot to death by a deputy after it allegedly lunged at him. The deputy had come by the house after a woman reported being bitten by a dog on the property.
Goodwin wasn’t home at the time, but his girlfriend contacted him when she saw Big Boy dead near the mailbox.
According to the Care 2 petition titled “Fire Cop Who Ordered Man to Cut Off His Dog’s Head,” the situation was under control until Hollis arrived and demanded Goodwin decapitate his dog.
Following the Dec. 1 incident, 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, according to the Macon Telegraph.
According to Georgia public health officials, if there’s concern about a person getting rabies from a rabid animal’s saliva or brain tissue, it’s recommended that a professional cut off the dead animal’s head for testing.
Goodwin is not a veterinarian or trained animal control officer.
“James Hollis' behavior was absolutely outrageous,” the Care2 petition states. “There was no reason for him to order Joe Nate Goodwin to cut off his own dog's head.”
Goodwin posted the encounter with Hollis on his Facebook page , in which Hollis is seen telling Goodwin and his girlfriend that they had to remove Big Boy’s head, put it in a bag and take it immediately to the health department for rabies testing.
“We asked you to remove the dog’s head ... and you’re refusing, right?” Hollis could be heard saying. In the video, Hollis appears to push Goodwin against a car.
Goodwin regrets following the orders, but did as he was told because he was afraid of being shot or taken to jail, the AJC previously reported. He also didn’t think he could afford having a professional remove Big Boy’s head for a fee.
According to Walker, Goodwin was advised by the county health department about the options regarding the decapitation and testing.
But even though Goodwin was given the option to do it himself, state public health officials say a trained professional should remove the head using gloves, face and eye protection.
Goodwin’s dog tested negative for rabies, but it’s possible that Goodwin may have compromised the test by cutting off his dog’s head without sterile equipment.