Woman Who Sheltered Animals During Hurricane Gets Arrested?

A North Carolina woman was arrested because she gave shelter to 27 cats and dogs as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the coast. Authorities charged Tammie Hedges with multiple counts of practicing medicine without a license because she administered drugs to some of the animals that were sick. 

Hedges, who is the founder of Crazy's Claws N Paws animal shelter, was in the process of converting an old warehouse into a shelter but had not yet obtained a license. With Florence heading toward the coast, Hedges knew she had to do something and decided to open the shelter and take in pets that needed a place to stay. 

“The goal was to make sure they were not out there drowning,” Hedges told WNCN. “We had an elderly couple, they were evacuating that afternoon, and there was no way they could take 18 animals with them.”

Volunteers rushed to help out as well, bringing crates of food and supplies while working at the shelter 24 hours a day. 

After the storm had passed, Hedges received a call from Wayne County’s animal services manager Frank Sauls who told her that she had to turn over the animals. Not long after the animals were seized Hedges was taken into custody.

Crazy's Claws N Paws listed all the charges in a Facebook post about Hedges arrest.

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 (asking for donation of Tramadol (that was suppose to be a request for a vet)).

Hedges defended herself to the Goldsboro News-Argus, arguing that the charges should be dropped because of the life-threatening conditions caused by Hurricane Florence. 

“Vets were closed. Had they left the animals there, we could have had a vet come out here, because some vets were open later, but we didn’t get that option,” she said. “During a state of emergency, you’re not going to find anybody open. I did what I’m supposed to do. I’m not about to let an animal be in pain and run a fever. When I have the availability and the supplies to help them, I’m going to do it.”

Supporters started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Hedges's legal defense and have surpassed their goal of $20,000. 

The county issued a statement about the incident:

“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.”

By Bill Galluccio

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