Source AP ©

30 counts of cruelty to animals filed against US man who kept sheep in his home

A man who kept 77 sheep in his suburban home was charged with 30 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

David Watts, 47, was being held at the Wake County jail in lieu of $12,000 (EUR9,000) bail following a court appearance on Wednesday. A judge denied a request by Watts' lawyer to release him pending trial.

Watts surrendered the flock to animal control officers Monday after police found some sheep grazing on artificial flowers in the town cemetery in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh.

Thirty of the sheep were euthanized because of various health problems. In addition, sheep bones and carcasses were found in Watts' yard.

Veterinarian Kelli Ferris, who examined the flock, said some of the animals' hooves had never been trimmed, causing infections that led the sheep to walk on their knees.

Watts kept some of the younger sheep on the ground floor of his house and kept the others in pens in the yard, authorities said.

Watts denies abusing the animals. He told The News & Observer of Raleigh on Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by the number of lambs born this year.

Watts, who said he has raised sheep for a decade, called the animals "relaxing to be around."

"It's like in Florida, you can swim with the dolphins. If you can get sheep to follow you, it might be a similar experience."

A high school in western North Carolina adopted 13 lambs. The lambs will live on the school farm, where students will care for them. It was unclear where the rest of the sheep went.

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