COFFEEVILLE – Citing the death of three dead calves and a prized coon dog, a Yalobusha woman strongly criticized the sheriff’s department for not enforcing the county’s vicious dog ordinance.
Nell Camp said the killings started on June 12, with another on June 29. The third calf was killed on July 3, followed by the brutal attack on the coon dog during the night on August 23. The incidents occurred at their property located on County Road 226.
Pointing to the sheriff during the Sept. 2 supervisor meeting, Camp said his department was not enforcing the ordinance, a claim that was vehemently denied by Sheriff Lance Humphreys.
“This law says after the third offense, they should have been put in jail,” Camp told supervisors and the sheriff during the meeting at the Coffeeville courthouse.
Following the accusations, Humphreys said his deputies had made three different trips to the complainant’s house without making visual contact with the dogs. He also told Camp and supervisors that without identifying the dogs or the dogs’ owner, he was not able to physically take custody of the dogs or cite an owner with violating the ordinance.
“Let me ask you something, Nell. Who owns the dogs?” District 5 Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman asked.
“Mary Ann Crocker,” Camp answered.
“Lives right there above you, there,” Tillman asked.
“Yes, we are sitting ducks. We are sitting ducks. Now he (Lance) has not done his job,” Camp answered, adding that her husband, Elvis Camp, and son, Curtis Camp, have to stay up day and night protecting their livestock.
She also told county officials that a doctor prescribed nerve pills due to the stress of the ordeal and directed her to contact the sheriff’s department daily until the situation is resolved.
“The only response we could get from the sheriff was ‘you got to shoot those dogs,’” Camp continued. “I don’t see anything in that ordinance that says we got to shoot those dogs.”
Camp also said her husband confronted the woman they alleged owned the dogs.
“She said she wasn’t going to do anything with her dogs and was not going to pay for those calves,” Camp added, explaining that she called up a dozen dogs that had all been sighted in their pasture.
“To start off with, we have been out to Mrs. Crockers three different times and have yet to see these dogs. Y’all don’t call when the dogs are attacking. If you will read the law, I have to see the dogs,” Humphreys said.
“The dogs are there,” Camp countered.
“We have to see it. We have been to Mrs. Crockers three different times,” Humphreys reiterated, adding that the deputy had a video recorder ready to record the dogs as evidence.
“Did he ask her to call her dogs up?” Camp asked.
“He was there exactly when your husband told us to get there,” Humphreys continued.
The sheriff also countered earlier allegations levied by Camp that he had instructed Elvis Camp to poison the dogs.
“As for me telling him to poison dogs, I didn’t tell him that. I am not going to tell anybody to poison dogs because it is against the law,” Humphreys said.
“You are lying,” Camp countered.
“I told him to shoot the dogs if he saw them. The state investigator from the agricultural department told you to shoot the dogs. We have not seen the dogs. I know they are there because they are attacking your animals. If you would like to swear out an affidavit against Mrs. Crocker, that is fine. She is to the point where she is ready to sue y’all for harassment,” Humphreys explained.
“I sent a deputy out there two weeks ago, she told me she is sick and tired of it,” Humphreys continued.
Humphreys also answered accusations from Camp involving an incident with the same neighbor.
“I looked up one morning and three sheriff’s vehicles were coming up my driveway,” Camp said, explaining that the neighbor had called authorities and reported Curtis and Elvis had guns pointed at her house.
“That was a lie. Curtis was on his private property, way, way back over the road,” Camp said.
Elvis was on the road with a gun protecting the calves, she also explained.
“Curtis and your husband were standing out in front of Tim Crocker’s house with high powered rifles,” Humphreys said.
“No, they were not,” Camp answered.
“I am just telling you what the reports are, I am taking your report, I am taking their reports. He told the dispatcher they were standing out in front of his driveway with high-powered rifles.
“That’s a lie,” Camp countered.
“According to Mrs. Crocker, y’all have already killed five of her puppies,” Humphreys continued. That claim was not denied by Camp, who added that a state agriculture investigator told her husband they had the right to shoot the dogs.
“That’s exactly right, if they are attacking your livestock,” Humphreys answered.
“And they are her dogs,” Camp said, prompting Humphreys to retrace the trips his deputies made to the residence without seeing the dogs.
“They are wild dogs,” Humphreys said.
“No they are not wild dogs, they belong to her,” Camp countered.
“If you would live to file an affidavit against her, that’s fine. I am not going to put the county in the liability because I have not seen the dogs,” Humphreys said.
“Did you call them? Did you call them? Did your deputy call the dogs like Elvis has. They would have come off that creek bank. You would have had 12 or 15 right there. Did you call them? No. The deputy didn’t do nothing,” Camp added.
“The thing about it, when you get into dogs… if I own dogs and a man comes up in my yard and starts calling my dogs there and was going to shoot them, we are going to have trouble,” Tillman explained, adding they must have proof before they can take someone to court.
“They came up wanting to file charges, but the problem is Farm Bureau Insurance has already paid for the calves,” Humphreys added.
“Paid for that first one, the other two have not been paid,” Camp countered.
Humphreys reiterated that in multiple trips his officers have not been able to see the dogs described by the Camps. “Part of the ordinance says we have to see them.”
“They come like lightning, they strike like lightning and they leave like lightning,” Camp said.
“Is this a family matter?” Tillman asked.
“I am not getting into that,” the sheriff answered.
“No it’s not a family matter, she is not kin to me,” Camp added.
“If you would like to file charges, you are more than welcome,” Humphreys said as the conversation continued.
“Oh, it’s going to go public. I bet you one thing, you won’t be sheriff next year because I love to talk,” Camp said.
“That’s fine,” Humphreys said.
Mamie Fisk also spoke to the board briefly about dog problems. Fisk told supervisors she had been to the house where Camp alleged the dogs stayed and saw 15 dogs come out from inside the house.
“Did you ask them to open the door and let the dogs come out?” Fisk asked Humphreys about his deputies trips to the house.
Fisk, who is a neighbor of Camp, also said she had a dog killed earlier in the year and encountered vicious dogs in the area with little help from authorities after multiple calls.
Fisk lives on County Road 60 and told supervisors that vicious dogs roam at night. She said bulldogs had killed her dog and were different from the dogs described by Camp. After that killing, she said she had not seen those dogs again.
The conversation then shifted back to Camp’s problem, with Humphreys asking Camp if she wanted to come to the sheriff’s department and file charges.
“Well, we have been to your office so many times and they said we could not do nothing,” Camp said.
“The first time, Elvis wanted to file a civil suit,” Humphreys said, explaining that the civil suit could not be filed because the insurance company had already paid a claim on the calf.
After the county officials encouraged Camp to continue to contact the sheriff’s department when she has a problem, they also recommended filing charges in justice court and let the county’s judicial system deal with the problem.
Both Fisk and Camp are elderly and told supervisors that dealing with the dogs is extremely stressful for their families.
“That woman has made brags and I have heard her make them. She said ‘she’s the sheriff out there and nobody messes with her.’ I am not scared of her. I am not scared of you, Lance. I am not scared of any of y’all,” Camp said as the conversation on the topic came to a close.