Animals

North Carolina Woman Won't Be Punished for Sheltering Pets During Florence

But she never should have faced criminal charges in the first place.

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Crazy's Claws N' Paws/Facebook

Prosecutors have dropped all charges against Tammie Hedges, the North Carolina woman who sheltered local pets during Hurricane Florence.

Hedges is the executive director of Crazy's Claws N' Paws, a volunteer-based nonprofit that takes in neglected or injured animals and finds them permanent homes. Though Crazy's isn't a licensed animal shelter, the organization is currently "renovating a shelter site," Hedges told Reason last week.

With many residents in Wayne County, North Carolina, evacuating the area, Hedges realized the site was the perfect pet for pets to take refuge. She ended up taking in 27 animals—17 cats and 10 dogs.

Things went south several days later. Hedges says the county's animal services manager demanded she turn the pets over willingly or he'd get a warrant. Hedges complied, but that didn't stop them from arrested her days later. The Wayne County District Attorney's Office officially charged her 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 county press release.

Hedges told the Goldsboro News-Argus that most of the charges were a result of her administering amoxicillin, which is used to treat bacterial infections, to some of the animals. She also allegedly solicited a donation of the painkiller tramadol.

Hedges' story quickly went viral. Not only was it covered by several national media outlets, but a petition demanding she not be punished garnered more than 33,000 signatures. America seemed to be on her side.

On Tuesday night, the county announced that prosecutors had "dismissed" the charges. A statement from District Attorney Matthew Delbridge suggests that it was bad publicity and nothing else that prompted him to give up on the case.

"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," Delbridge said. He went on to accuse Hedges of "taking advantage of a dire situation to solicit money and opioid narcotics from our generous and well intentioned citizens."

It's good that Hedges won't be treated like a criminal for helping pets. But Delbridge's statement doesn't address the larger problem: She never should have gotten in trouble in the first place.

It's not like she stole anyone's animals. People voluntarily put them in her care during an emergency situation. And she appears to have taken good care of the pets. Not only were they given free medical care, but volunteers played with them, walked them, and cleaned up after them. Local volunteers are, in fact, often the people best equipped to save animals during disasters. A sensible system would recognize that, not charge the good Samaritans with crimes.

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25 responses to “North Carolina Woman Won't Be Punished for Sheltering Pets During Florence

  1. It’s good that Hedges won’t be treated like a criminal for helping pets.

    She was arrested and booked (for non-violent and non-property offenses btw). So look up her mugshot on the Wayne County Sheriff’s website before you say she won’t be treated like a criminal.

    1. No good deed goes unpunished!!!

    2. Fuck the government with a barbed-wire dildo.

  2. On Tuesday night, the county announced that prosecutors had “dismissed” the charges.

    See? It’s like she was never arrested in the first place.

  3. Charges dismissed.

    Sucks she had to deal with this much.

  4. 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.

    Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.

  5. A passion for and the love of law is laudable but does not excuse unnecessarily putting people at risk when other, safer abuses are available.

  6. “Local volunteers are, in fact, often the people best equipped to save animals during disasters.”

    Well, yeah… but think of the message it sends. Friends and neighbors helping each other out and not expecting to be paid for it. You don’t want people finally coming to the realization that there might not be the need for quite so many paid public “servants” as there are now, do you?

  7. solicitation of a Schedule 4 controlled substance

    Selling opiates to a Maine Coon (cat) is looked down upon in NC.

    1. Damn, son, if you thought catnip was addictive, wait until the cats get ahold of those opioids.

    2. The first one is free.

  8. “A statement from District Attorney Matthew Delbridge suggests that it was bad publicity and nothing else that prompted him to give up on the case.”

    The reason police are not prosecuted for assault, manslaughter, theft/robbery or kidnapping for actions taken in the course of their duty but without a warrant is that those acts, which might otherwise be crimes, were necessary reactions to emergency situations.

    Police aren’t granted those protections because they are police, every citizen has those protections. Except when an over-zealous prosecutor forgets what his first duty is.

  9. ” Hedges realized the site was the perfect pet for pets to take refuge.”
    “didn’t stop them from arrested her”

    Joe, if you and/or your editors don’t take time to proofread your work, why should I take time to read it? I wish I could say this lack is unique to you or to reason.com. But it’s not; it’s ubiquitous among online reporting. Readers have no choice but to infer that, if the reporters/editors can’t get the easy stuff right, there’s little reason to believe they get the hard, more substantive, stuff right.

  10. demanded she turn the pets over willingly or he’d get a warrant. Hedges complied,

    People voluntarily put them in her care during an emergency situation.

    So have the animals been returned to the owners who put them in Hedges’ care?

  11. I’m not sure I particularly care for the way they tried to kick her in the shins on her way out the door – it’s the most ungraceful dismissal I can imagine.

    Did they dismiss the charge due to budget limitations? If they had budget limitations why did the file the charge in the first place?

    What happened to Teh Law is Teh Law? It seems authorities down there don’t believe this – as yours truly reported in these threads, local authorities have boasted of their *not* charging young troublemakers in juvenile court.

    But from their public statements, they don’t sound as merciful toward the cat-lady as toward the young hooligans.

    If she’s guilty and they can prove it and they have the money, then what’s stopping them?

  12. “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,”

    But apparently, it does.

    If not, why are you letting her go?

    1. “Other, safer resources” my ass!

      The same asshole that had her arrested closed the animal shelter and ran like a fucking coward.

  13. So I wanted to comment locally in NC regarding this whole situation. Admittedly, my Google-fu may not be the best…

    But having visited the websites of the town, the local newspapers, the local TV and radio stations, the comment sections have either been non-existent or (0 Comments) moderated. It seems to me the traditional media is so far up the government’s back-end as to be useless to libertarians even in abusive situations as demonstrated here. Simply depressing!

    1. exactly…and the media always has been on the side of the government, and on the side of big business…they all work together…mass immigration and multiculturalism? Loved by the establishment…

    2. One of the monstrosities of ideological war is that it sucks all the life out of local media and politics, everyone is so busy saving the world that they don’t think what happens locally is important. The classic example is someone who travels across the country for a protest but won’t bother to know anything about their district attorney or know a single fact about county government.

      This even happens in small towns these days.

  14. The death penalty should be levied. She demonstrated that the government isn’t necessary and that simply cannot be allowed!

  15. Whoever brought those charges against this hero was a piece of shit. It makes absolutely no sense.

  16. Perhaps the Gov’t thugs that set this all in motion need some time in a re-education facility?

  17. Something I’ve been wondering for a long time now is in these one-off or minor “infractions” why can’t somebody from the gubmint come by and say, ” We think what you did was a bad idea for these reasons. Please just don’t do it again.”

    Why does there always have to be an arrest????

  18. ‘He went on to accuse Hedges of “taking advantage of a dire situation to solicit money and opioid narcotics from our generous and well intentioned citizens.”‘

    I like how he just HAD to insert the obligatory ‘opoid narcotics’ into the story. No one else mentioned opoids.

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