Sheriff cancels dog raffle after negative social media feedback

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Photo: Cleveland County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

The Cleveland County, North Carolina Sheriff's Office has canceled a raffle featuring a dog as the grand prize, officials confirmed to Fox 46 News' Robin Kanady. The officials cited negative feedback as the reason for cancelling the raffle.

A post to the department's Facebook page advertising the raffle, received over 6,000 shares and another 6,000 comments. Many of the comments appearing on both the sheriff department's Facebook page and the Fox 46 News Facebook page were negative.

"This is wrong on every level," Steve Von Talge wrote on the Fox 46 News Facebook page about the raffle. "This puppy could end up as bait [or a] fighting dog."

Even one of the most popular comments on the sheriff's department page politely called for an end to the raffle.

"I'm sure this is being done with good intentions. However, please reconsider,"  Kathy Bailey Vellenga wrote in a comment with more than a dozen likes. "You have no way of knowing what kind of home this pup will go to... Perhaps you could pair up with the local shelter and do a fundraiser with them and in turn encourage residents to adopt from the shelter."

Captain Richard Acuff with the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office said it was never their intention to put this puppy in harm's way. He says the department has been doing a puppy raffle at the fair for more than a dozen years and that most of the time, the winners choose a cash prize instead of adoption. In those cases, Acuff says the dog usually goes to the home of a sheriff's deputy to live.

But the captain says if the winner of the raffle wants to keep the dog, the sheriff's office does have a screening process where they've even gone to the potential adopter's house to  check it out and make sure it's a safe environment.

A spokesperson for a local animal rescue group says the raffle is risky because the puppy could end up in the wrong hands. Brianna Duffy, spokesperson with Catering to Cats and Dogs, said, “We rescue a lot of dogs that have been used as bait dogs, dogs that have been sold to any person on the side of the road to just have it for their own personal use, which is not positive.”

Duffy says it would've been best if the sheriff's office had partnered with a rescue group to further vet adoption candidates for the fundraiser. She added, “Just because someone can afford a dollar for a raffle does not mean that they can afford lifelong care for an animal.”

On Friday, Fox 46 News tried contacting Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman multiple times, but he did not return our phone calls. We were also told he was not in the office Friday.

A GoFundMe page was set up Friday in lieu of the puppy raffle. The page says the sheriff's department needs money that it normally counts on from the puppy raffle. "The fundraiser has been a success for many years but we want to encourage a different approach to raising money for this deserving department," the page says. "Thank you, dog lovers, far and wide for your concern. Your voices made a difference! Now, let’s use all that passion and get the department the financial help they need!"

The page says a Charlotte rescue group offered to pay for veterinary care and to help place the dog.