PETA Urges Maximum Jail Time in Local Animal Torture Case

For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2021

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Caleb Daniel Dewald of Winston-Salem is facing 10 felony charges of cruelty to animals after PETA provided authorities with evidence—and today, the group sent an urgent letter to Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill asking him to prosecute the case vigorously and, if a conviction is secured, to recommend the longest jail sentence allowable. The group also urged counseling for the alleged perpetrator if he’s convicted and a ban on owning or harboring animals.

“Dewald is accused of having shared videos of himself drowning, stabbing, smashing, and setting fire to animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “If he’s found guilty, PETA wants him off the streets and away from animals for as long as possible because studies show that such wantonly cruel people pose a future danger to the whole community.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to O’Neill follows.

July 21, 2021

The Honorable Jim O’Neill

Forsyth County District Attorney

Dear Mr. O’Neill:

Greetings from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This letter concerns an alarming case of cruelty to animals that your office is handling involving 19-year-old Caleb Daniel Dewald of Winston-Salem, who faces 10 felony charges of cruelty to animals stemming from multiple videos depicting animal torture that were apparently recorded over the last few years. Videos that PETA received from an anonymous complainant show an abuser performing sadistic and depraved acts, including drowning an opossum and a squirrel, stabbing a rat repeatedly with a knife, spraying a squirrel with accelerant and setting fire to the animal, and wrapping another squirrel in tape, placing the animal in a plastic bag, and smashing the animal with a rock. Dewald was initially charged with four felony counts of cruelty for these videos, but additional evidence that PETA supplied resulted in a second search of his home, during which content was uncovered that led to the filing of six additional felony cruelty charges.

As you know, mental-health professionals and law-enforcement officials consider animal abuse a red flag. The American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders, and the FBI uses reports of such crimes in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals and categorizes cruelty to animals in its national felony crimes database alongside arson and homicide. Indeed, many serial killers and school shooters share a history of cruelty to animals—the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is simply undeniable. To ensure the safety of the community, it’s essential that crimes of this nature be addressed vigorously and consistently.

If a conviction is secured, we respectfully ask that your office recommend the maximum length of incarceration allowable. Mandatory psychological counseling is also in order as a sentencing recommendation. Most importantly, if a conviction is secured and given the high rate of recidivism among animal abusers, we ask that sentencing include a prohibition against owning or harboring animals for as long as possible (a common provision in such cases).

Thank you for your time, consideration, and attention to this extremely disturbing case.


Kristin Rickman

Emergency Response Division Manager

Cruelty Investigations Department

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