- Apr 2010
- Pittsburgh, PA
Criminal Charges for North Carolina Woman Who Sheltered Pets During Hurricane FlorenceA North Carolina woman says she just wanted local pets to have a safe place to stay as Hurricane Florence made landfall earlier this month. But now she's facing upward of a dozen criminal charges related to the medical care she freely provided to the animals.
Flood and tornado warnings were in effect last week in Wayne County, North Carolina, and the area got more than 10 inches of rainfall. Keeping 2016's deadly Hurricane Matthew in mind, Tammie Hedges realized that with residents evacuating, there would be animals in need of safe, dry shelter.
"It was brought to my attention from some individual rescuers that were going to go out again during this disaster and save some animals," Hedges tells Reason. "They just didn't have anywhere to put them."
But there was a solution. Hedges is the founder and executive director of Crazy's Claws N' Paws, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that takes in neglected or injured animals and finds them permanent homes. The volunteer-based, no-kill organization gives animals whatever they need, from medical care to microchipping.
Crazy's isn't a licensed animal shelter yet, but they're working on "renovating a shelter site," Hedges says. The building was not in a flood zone, and it's "easily accessible." In other words, the perfect place for pets to take refuge while Florence did her worst.
Hedges' organization took in a total of 27 pets—17 cats and 10 dogs. Thanks to donated food and other supplies, she made sure they were cared for. During the day, volunteers played with the dogs, walked them, and cleaned up after them. There was even a person who stayed at night "to make sure that the animals were not alone," she says.
On Monday, Hedges was at home when she got a call from Frank Sauls, the animal services manager for Wayne County. She says Sauls told he's received a call about flooding at the shelter site. There was no flooding, but Sauls asked her to come by anyway. When she arrived, Sauls asked if he could go inside to see the animals. She obliged.
Things quickly went south. "We didn't even get to the room that the animals were in and in and it was basically, 'you can hand them over voluntarily, or I'm going to get a warrant,'" Hedges says.
That's government for you. Some power tripping little douchebag who would rather that dogs and cats die in a natural disaster than someone saved them without his permission.