Tammie Hedges said she was trying to do the right thing by sheltering dogs and cats during Hurricane Florence.
But Wayne County officials said she was operating an unlicensed shelter, allegedly practiced veterinary medicine without a license and allegedly “solicited a Schedule 4 controlled substance,” so she was arrested on Sept. 21.
Now charges against Hedges have been dropped, the county announced in a statement Tuesday.
Crazy’s Claws N’ Paws in Goldsboro turned over 27 dogs and cats on Sept. 17, after Wayne County animal services determined the group was operating an unregistered animal shelter, The (Goldsboro) News-Argus first reported.
On Friday, the rescue posted on its Facebook page to say that Crazy’s Claws N’ Paws founder and director Tammie Hedges had been arrested and transported to the Wayne County Detention Center.
Hedges was charged with 12 counts of misdemeanor “practice/attempt veterinary medicine without a license” and one count of “solicitation of a Schedule 4 controlled substance,” according to a statement from Wayne County posted to the county’s Facebook page on Friday.
On Tuesday, the county said that the district attorney’s office “dismissed the charges” against her.
District Attorney Matthew Delbridge issued the following statement:
“The protection of animals and their well-being has always been an important concern, especially during times of natural disaster. A passion for and the love of animals is laudable but does not excuse unnecessarily putting their health at risk when other, safer resources are available. The removal of animals from a building that failed to meet suitable standards for license as an animal shelter and away from the control of this defendant who has previously been censured for the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine was a prudent decision made with the best interest of the animals in mind. This was especially true in light of her taking advantage of a dire situation to solicit money and opioid narcotics from our generous and well intentioned citizens. It is my desire that having ensured the safety of the animals in question, a dismissal of these criminal charges will minimize further distraction from my core mission of protecting the public from violent crime and allow the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board to take whatever action they may deem appropriate.“
The county said animal services officers were dispatched to investigate the well being of animals dropped off at “an unlicensed shelter in the Rosewood community” on Sept. 17.
“The safety and well-being of the animals was the primary concern of Wayne County Animal Services officers,” the county said in its statement.
The county said Hedges surrendered the animals willingly and they were all checked by a veterinarian.
“All animals that were surrendered remained sheltered under supervision of the County of Wayne. Some animals have already been reunited with their owners and others will be when their owners are able to return to their homes. The Wayne County Animal Shelter made preparations prior to the arrival of the hurricane to have shelters staffed 24/7 with plenty of space for residents to bring their pets. The Wayne County Animal Shelter did not charge to house any pet during the storm,” the county said in its statement.
The rescue said on Facebook that Hedges was charged because she tried to administer medication to animals in need when local veterinarians were inaccessible. The Schedule 4 controlled substance was a medication for the animals, the rescue said.
Hedges kept the animals at a warehouse space in Rosewood she intended to turn into a registered shelter. The nonprofit — which serves Wayne, Johnston, Lenoir and Wilson counties — currently operates out of pet foster homes.
North Carolina statutes require a certificate of registration issued by the Animal Welfare Section in order to operate an animal shelter.