This story was updated as of 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018.
The director of an animal rescue nonprofit in North Carolina said she was just trying to do the right thing by taking in pets stranded by Hurricane Florence. Wayne County officials arrested her, the rescue says.
Crazy’s Claws N’ Paws in Goldsboro turned over 27 dogs and cats on Monday 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 released later that day on a $10,000 unsecured bond, the rescue said on Facebook, and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 17.
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 Monday, September 17, 2018, Wayne County Animal Services responded to 152 NC Highway 581 in Goldsboro at the request of the NC State Department of Agriculture. Wayne County Animal Services made contact with Ms. Tammie Hedges and upon entering the facility they developed serious concerns regarding the practice of veterinary medicine without a license and the presence of controlled substances,” Wayne County said in the statement.
The animals that were surrendered “were checked out by a licensed veterinarian and Animal Services is working to reunite them with their owners,” according to the county’s statement.
Wayne County animal services “turned the case over to the Wayne County District Attorney’s office based on suspicion of practicing veterinarian medicine without a license and presence of controlled substances ... Ms. Hedges is considered innocent until proven guilty,” according to the county’s statement.
The rescue said on Facebook that Hedges was charged because she tried to administering medication to animals in need when local veterinarians were inaccessible. The Schedule 4 controlled substance was a medication for the animals, the rescue said.
The rescue kept the animals in a temporary warehouse space in Rosewood, according to The News-Argus report. 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.
Hedges is working to turn the space on Route 581 into a registered shelter, according to television station CBS17.
“The goal was to make sure that they were not out there drowning,” Hedges told CBS17. “The owners were just going to leave them, in a flood zone, on chains. We don’t want that.”
Wayne Animal Service Manager Frank Sauls said the matter is under investigation. “If we didn’t feel like anything was being done wrong, we should not have taken (the animals),” Sauls said, according to The News-Argus.
Weather officials reported record rainfall amounts from Florence in the eastern Carolinas.
As of Thursday, the storm had been blamed for 31 deaths in North Carolina, The News & Observer reported.