Hurricane Florence: Woman who rescued 27 pets from tropical storm is charged for not having right permits for the animals

Tammie Hedges accused of giving drugs without veterinary licence - but she says it was over-the-counter medicine to help animals survive

Monday 24 September 2018 10:19 BST
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She was credited with saving more than two dozen pets left abandoned as Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina, but Tammie Hedges has now been arrested and charged because she did not have the correct permits to look after the animals.

Ms Hedges took in 27 cats and dogs at her not-for-profit Crazy’s Claws N Paws rescue centre, in rural Wayne County, at the height of the storm last week.

But when the bad weather moved out, officials moved in.

Investigators with Wayne County Animal Control have accused her of housing the cats and dogs in a facility which not legally registered as a shelter. She is also alleged to have administered drugs without a veterinary licence.

She said she put the pets – all of which survived the storm – in a warehouse which is currently being converted into a shelter because they had nowhere else to go.

All the drugs used were over-the-counter medicines anyone could buy, she added, pointing out that no vets were open during the bad weather to treat sickness and injuries.

“Our mission was to save as many animals from the flood that we could,” she said. “We went through Hurricane Matthew [in 2016] and it was horrible. There were many preventable deaths.”

She added: “The owners got to evacuate. They got to save themselves. But who’s going to save those animals? That’s what we did. We saved them.”

She said the plan was to return all pets but investigators had now seized them.

The county issued a statement saying animal control officers had "serious concern” regarding Ms Hedges’ actions.

“Wayne County Animal Services turned the case over to the Wayne County District Attorney’s office based on suspicion of practising veterinarian medicine without a license and presence of controlled substances," it said. "Ms Hedges is considered innocent until proven guilty.”

The office said that all the animals that were surrendered were checked by a licensed veterinarian and that it is working to reunite them with their owners.

Ms Hedges has now set up an online fundraising campaign in an attempt to raise money to cover her legal costs.

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