WEDDINGTON, NC (WBTV) - WEDDINGTON, NC (WBTV) - About a dozen protestors met at the intersection of Providence and Hemby roads Saturday holding signs asking people not to buy products from the man who owns a produce stand there.
The man at the center of an animal abuse investigation in Weddington says he's done nothing wrong. Along with firewood, produce and plants, Stan Delaney also sells dogs.
Neighbors say the animals were malnourished and abused. Delaney insists that the dogs are safe.
He calls the protest and the attempt to make the dogs and issue just the latest ploy from neighbors to put him out of business.
"They are causing me financial harm but I have the right to be here..this property has been in my family a long time and we intend to stay here," Delaney said Saturday.
Delaney says the dogs are happy, and anything but malnourished. Delaney showed WBTV vet records that appeared to show the dogs were in good health, though they did test positive for hookworms.
Neighbors allege the dogs live in dangerous conditions and are outside for weeks at a time.
"As far as staying out here, they may stay in cages one night, but they have never stayed out here for weeks on end, as some of these people have claimed," he said.
Delaney says the entire issue is not about a few dogs, it's about his lot, which some neighbors call an "eyesore."
Former Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson is Delaney's first cousin. She says neighbors have been after Delaney because they don't like how he developed his property.
Delaney was arrested in charged with animal abuse in February. Authorities in Chesterfield County say several horses and other farm animals were severely malnourished. Some were found dead. The case is pending.
One protestor thinks the larger issue is lax animal laws.
"Animals shouldn't be sold on the roadside like that with no check as to where they're going..they could be sold and thrown in as bait in a dog fight..this guy doesn't know," Glo Kearns with Wish Haven Animal Rescue said.
"He brought in a dog house or a structure that looks nice..he brought in family with babies and kids playing with the dogs. That never happened. We never saw those people over on that property before. It's just a staged event. I wish he would've shown a tenth of that compassion before," Highgate resident Michael Simon said.
"Certainly everyone has the right to express their opinion but the signs they are carrying are spreading false information..they are saying I've been convicted of animal abuse in North and South Carolina. I don't know where they get their information because I've never had a conviction on animal abuse. Never. In either state," Delaney said.