Nate Goodwin receiving a frantic call from his girlfriend while he was at work. She informed him that his beloved dog had been shot by a policeman after he reportedly bit a neighbor. He quickly went home, but would’ve never imagined the terrible chain of events he’d have to face later on, on what turned out to be the worst day of his life.
46-year-old Kandice Rose Bangs went to take out the trash on a normal Friday in December, 2017. She had flown from California to visit Macon, Georgia. As she rolled down the trash bin through the driveway, she heard growling and barking coming from behind. She turned around and saw a pit bull mixed dog running towards her.
The pit bull bit Bangs in the back of her leg, but she managed to rush back inside to call 911. An ambulance arrived shortly after, along with Crawford County Deputy Wesley Neesmith. Neesmith who took her testimony of what happened. The ambulance took her away, while the deputy inspected the scene. Shortly after, he spotted the dog once again.
Deputy Neesmith saw the dog head towards a resident who was standing at the end of the driveway. He immediately drew his weapon and proceeded to yell at the dog, in an attempt to get him to back off. He proceeded to interview neighbors in order to find the dog’s owners. He was informed that the dog belonged to the house across the street from where Bangs got bitten. The deputy decided he needed to pay them a visit.
The deputy arrived at Nate Goodwin’s house, hoping to inform them of the incident, but in that very moment, the dog appeared, only this time, he was charging towards him. Neesmith screamed at him, asking him to stop, but the dog carried on growling, ignoring his command. The deputy fired two shots at the dog, who then fell to his death on the driveway. At that moment, Goodwin’s girlfriend came out.
Natasha Dakon, Goodwin’s girlfriend, was inside the house when she suddenly heard the gunshots. She immediately went outside and saw the family dog, Big Boy, lying dead, with the deputy staring at him, standing beside the dog. She phoned her boyfriend who was working at the moment, and told him the sad news. Goodwin was dumbfounded as he rushed back home. He had no clue that everything was about to get worse.
Deputy Neesmith proceeded to tell Goodwin about what had happened right before he arrived at the scene. After hearing him out, Goodwin completely understood that the deputy was just doing his job, and had no other choice but to shoot the dog. Moments later, investigator James Hollis showed up at the driveway, and made a call to the local health department. The investigator then approached Goodwin and asking him to do something horrific.
Detective Hollis asked Goodwin to cut Big Boy’s head off, in order to send it to the lab to run some tests. They wanted to determine if the dog had rabies. Goodwin explained that he had vaccinated and that he even had the paperwork to prove it. But Hollis refused and suggested he could get a vet to do it if he didn’t want to be involved. Goodwin wasn’t having any of it.
The holidays had ransacked Goodwin’s savings, as he had spent all of his money on his children, in the hopes they would have a wonderful Christmas. He simply couldn’t afford to pay a vet. He still refused to cut off his own dog’s head. Quickly, everything went to hell, as Hollis told Goodwin, “I will take you to jail and charge you.” The dog owner defiantly asked Hollis if not wanting to behead his own dog was a crime.
Hollis became impatient and angrier by the minute, and threatened Goodwin with charging him with disorderly conduct. But deputy Neesmith admitted they were confused as well. “If you would just listen, we don’t know this process either,” he told Goodwin. That’s when Hollis had become physically aggressive towards Goodwin, holding him by the shirt, and slamming him against the roof of his car. Goodwin couldn’t do much but comply.
A heartbroken Goodwin then proceeded to ask his girlfriend to bring over a knife from the kitchen. Along with her, and the other officers watching, he started slowly cutting off his precious dog’s head. Later on, he hand it over to the cops, but they suddenly refused to take it. They had him freeze it first, before taking it to the health department in Roberta, a town nearby. At that moment, Goodwin decided to share his story publicly.
When Hollis ordered Goodwin to cut off his dog’s head, he decided to take out his phone and record the entire incident. He’s now posted all the videos online, hoping something can be done to prevent this horrible situation from happening again. “This was very traumatic for the kids and I,” he wrote, ”I don’t think anyone should be forced to do what I had to do.” The videos went viral, and sparked heated reactions from the public.
Local reporters interviewed Goodwin after the ordeal, but the sheriff’s office refused to comment further. The following Monday, they released a statement saying that those directions had come straight from the county’s health department. While it’s true that Hollis had received those instructions, a little investigation proved those instructions were wrong.
The Macon Telegraph talked to the spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, Nancy Nydam, who confirmed that forcing Goodwin to cut off his dog’s head was in clear violation of state protocol. Not only that, but the decapitation must be performed by a skilled veterinarian, or an animal control officer, “not only to provide a good specimen but also for the protection of the person who removes the head,” she added. Hollis had even put Goodwin’s life at stake.
State health department worker Richard Craft confirmed that Goodwin could’ve been exposed to getting rabies if the dog had been infected. The person who’s in charge of decapitation must always have a pre-exposure vaccine, wear gloves, eye protection, and even an apron. Goodwin wasn’t informed of any of these things at the time, so he’s not taking legal action.
Now Goodwin is suing the officers for $75,000 for forcing him to decapitate his own dog. Hollis’ office is reportedly investigating the situation. State officials did admit that protocol was breached, but they’re blaming local health departments who are supposed to be in charge of training law enforcement on how to proceed in these situations.