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Woman Gets Arrested for Sheltering and Treating Pets During Hurricane

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and this kindhearted North-Carolina woman who took in dozens of abandoned pets as Hurricane Florence ravaged the US state is a prime example of that. She was arrested and is now facing several misdemeanor charges for practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

As Hurricane Florence was getting ready to make landfall in North Caroline, Tammie Hedges decided to turn a warehouse she had been remodeling into a shelter for pets. Pets came from the streets, where they were picked up by volunteers, but also from their owners, who had to evacuate but couldn’t take their animals with them. All in all, she sheltered 27 pets – 17 cats and 10 dogs – during the storm, and also administered some medical treatments to ensure their well-being. But whereas most people considered her actions an act of kindness to animals, local authorities saw them as a violation of the law and charged her with several misdemeanors.

Photo: GoFundMe

On September 17, three days after Florence hit Wayne County, an Animal Services official visited Hedges’ warehouse at the request of the state Department of Agriculture. He apparently reported “serious concerns” that Tammie Hedges was practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

According to the Facebook page of Crazy’s Claws n Paws, a non-profit founded by Hedges, she had indeed administered medications such as amoxicillin and a topical antibiotic ointment to the animals, but only because she had to. One of the cats brought in by volunteers was bleeding from a wound at the neck, while others were seriously neglected and infested with fleas.

“She had to do what she did. If she hadn’t done what she did, then they’ll be charging her with animal neglect and cruelty. … The Wayne County animal shelter has taken issue with that because it wasn’t a hundred percent by the book and by the law,” said Kathie Davidson, a volunteer with Crazy’s Claws n Paws.

 

“What was she supposed to do?” Davidson asked The Washington Post. “The animals were sick and hurting. We just want to help animals, we don’t want to do anything wrong.”

The animals sheltered by Tammie Hedges basically had nowhere else to go. All veterinary offices in the area had closed before Florence struck, and it was impossible to transfer the 27 pets to the only emergency clinic in Wayne County during the storm. But authorities didn’t seem to care much about these details. To them, it was just about the violation of the law.

Control officers told Hedges that she was breaking the law by operating a shelter without a permit, and they took the animals away to be reunited with their owners, which the woman did not oppose. However, that was not the end of the story. On Friday, Tammie Hedges was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanors. She was soon released on a $10,000 bond, but news of her arrest for helping animals when no one else would rallied people behind her.

 

Hedges was notified that she was due to appear in court on October 17, but following a public outcry – including a petition signed by over 26,000 people – on September 25 she was made aware that the charges against her had been dismissed. Also, a campaign on crowdfunding site GoFundMe raised over $40,000 toward a new Crazy’s Claws n Paws shelter.

“She loves animals and wants to help them. … She takes it to heart. She cries for days when she loses an animal,” Davidson said about Tammie Hedges. “We just want to go back to what we do. … That’s our mission now, to get past this, to get back to doing what we do.”