Charges dropped against woman who was arrested for rescuing abandoned cats and dogs during Hurricane Florence
Tammie Hedges was arrested in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and charged with 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license. The charges have now been dropped
The North Carolina woman who was arrested and charged after she rescued cats and dogs during Hurricane Florence has had her charges dropped. Tammie Hedges, a resident of Wayne County, decided to intervene and take in 27 dogs and cats whose owners had to hastily evacuate because of the storm.
The owner of Crazy's Claws N Paws, a donation-based rescue center, Hedges was in the process of converting a warehouse space into a proper animal shelter when she decided to use the building to keep the 10 dogs and 17 cats safe during the hurricane. However, that facility was not legally registered as a shelter, meaning after the storm, she got a call from Wayne County Animal Control regarding the animals she had taken in.
She was informed that she could either willingly surrender the animals or have a warrant issued against her for the same. However, after she handed over the animals, she got a call a few days later and was arrested. She was subsequently charged with 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license.
In a post on their Facebook page, the rescue center broke down the charges which included, "1 count of administering amoxicillin to Big Momma, 1 count of administering Tramadol to Big Momma, 3 counts of administering amoxicillin to a white Siamese cat, 3 counts of administering a topical antibiotic ointment (triple antibiotic from Dollar Tree) to a white Siamese cat, 3 counts of administering amoxicillin to a cat known as Sweet Pea, 1 count of administering amoxicillin to an unnamed black kitten, and 1 count of solicitation to commit a crime."
At the time, the county had issued a statement about the incident which read, "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."
The arrest was followed by a public outcry that resulted in several thousand taking to social media and calling for her release. It appears those concerns have now been heard, with Wayne County prosecutors announcing in a post that the welfare of the animals — most of whom have been returned to their owners after their confiscation from the shelter — had been their greatest concern.
They wrote, "The District Attorney’s office for the 8th Judicial District has dismissed the charges against Tammy (Tammie) Hedges," explaining that "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 continued, adding that the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board could now take whatever action it deemed appropriate.
In the meantime, a GoFundMe page set up in Hedges' name raised over $40,000 in just 4 days, more than twice the set goal of $20,000. A description explained how she "helps low-income families with veterinary bills, pet supplies and other needs" and that her successful efforts in saving the animals during the hurricane "should not be punished."