On January 28, in Hoke County North Carolina, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized over 600 animals for cruelty and neglect. According to ABC11 News, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert A. Peterkin said that a search warrant had been served on The Haven-Friends for Life no-kill shelter. The authorities were responding to complaints made by the public and other agencies.
— FOX8 WGHP (@myfox8) January 28, 2016
What they found was shocking: A sprawling, muddy, 122-acre property with broken fences and ramshackle outbuildings. Ironically, ‘The Haven’s’ website dubs it, “North Carolina’s Most Successful No-Kill Shelter.” The animals lacked adequate shelter and were suffering from medical issues and emaciation. Some were injured, some close to death. That day, cruelty charges were filed against 67-year-old Stephen Joseph Spear and 59-year-old Linden Spear.
— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) January 27, 2016
Local news WRAL reported that the animals seized Thursday included 300 dogs, 250 cats, 40 horses and numerous farm animals. On Friday, approximately 20 dead dogs were found buried around the site.
Tim Rickey, senior vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response, said conditions at ‘The Haven’ were unacceptable.
“This is one of the largest animal seizures the ASPCA has ever conducted in our 150 years as an organization. Our goal is to help them become healthy and ultimately find them homes.”
Over 120 volunteers, including veterinarians and technicians, combined forces to assess and treat each animal. At least 11 animals were in need of emergency care.
The ASPCA moved the animals to an undisclosed location for their protection. Because this is an open investigation, the animals will remain in foster care awaiting a court judgment.
It’s not the first time the Spears have come under scrutiny. They were asked to cut back on their numbers in 2010, and their dispute with the state was featured on ABC News. “I’m done!” Spears barked.
“I’m furious!…I’m going to start pushing back. Whatever it takes, we’re going to stay open!”
— Nancy J. Bailey (@cliffysmom) January 30, 2016
Following that, public outcry against the overcrowded ‘Haven’ grew to the point that protesters even started a Facebook page.
The situation did not improve. Happily, sources report that not one animal has been euthanized since they were seized. Volunteers and SPCA staff are working to save them all.
— newsobserver.com (@newsobserver) January 30, 2016
News of the impoverished animals continues to spread. ASPCA is organizing ways for volunteers to help, while the court process gets rolling and the animals have a chance to recuperate.
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) January 30, 2016
It’s natural for people to want to reach out when they see animals in need. Aside from donating to ASPCA to help the Hoke County animals, here are a few things you can do:
- If you are looking for a pet, adopt a shelter animal.
- If you do adopt a shelter animal, be sure to visit the facility in person. Do not give money to a shelter that appears to be overcrowded or run-down. Trust your instincts.
- Do not buy pets from pet stores. Pet stores support puppy mills and animal hoarders.
- Seek out or start local fundraisers to support legitimate animal rescue, such as bake sales and the like.
- Share links and information, so that others can help.
And to this list we could add a sixth way to help: Be sure to love and care for your pet throughout its lifetime.
[Photo via Nancy Bailey]