Raleigh man accused of poisoning neighbor’s dogs was an animal rescue board member

A Raleigh man accused along with his wife of poisoning and killing his neighbor’s dogs was a board member of an animal rescue organization in Wake County.

James Goldston, 71, and Agnes Goldston, 73, were charged Thursday by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office with three counts of felony animal cruelty and a misdemeanor offense of communicating threats.

Saving Grace, a Wake Forest nonprofit that rescues and shelters dogs, said via social media that James Goldston resigned as a board member the day after his arrest. The group’s website lists Molly Goldston as its founder, though it does not say if she is related to the Goldstons and the agency did not return phone and email messages from The News & Observer on Monday.

“Although he did not have any direct interaction with the dogs at Saving Grace, James Goldston has voluntarily resigned, effective immediately, to avoid any distraction from the important work of the organization,” Saving Grace said in a Facebook post.

The Goldstons were arrested Thursday and posted $30,000 bail each on Friday, The N&O previously reported.

Raleigh dogs allegedly poisoned

The couple is alleged to have been in a dispute with their neighbor Philip Ridley and to have poisoned three of Ridley’s black Labrador retriever dogs.

Two died, and all three were found by a veterinarian to have been poisoned, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

James Goldston is also accused of tossing a handwritten letter into the Ridleys’ yard threatening their daughter, arrest warrants obtained by The N&O show.

“Your Daughter is Next. B Careful,” the letter read.

Authorities previously said the Ridleys reported that three dogs of their dogs became ill and that two died shortly after the Goldstons sent him threatening letters, WRAL and ABC 11 reported.

Ridley told WRAL that one dog died in July 2022 and that he believed the Goldstons poisoned squirrels the dogs may have eaten.

Ridley has had previous issues with the Goldstons, and other neighbors have received threats from them, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Colleen Hammond contributed to this report.

Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is a breaking news reporter for The News & Observer and previously covered business and real estate for the paper. His background includes reporting for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a freelance journalist in Raleigh and Charlotte covering Latino communities. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, a native Spanish speaker and was born in Mexico. You can follow his work on Twitter at @aaronsguerra.

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