Tammie Hedges May Face Charges For Unregistered Animal Shelter After Taking In Pets During Hurricane Florence

Man in orange jacket carries dog amidst Hurricane Florence flooding in North Carolina.
U.S. Coast Guard / Getty Images

According to CBS 17, a North Carolina woman could be facing charges for sheltering animals in the Hurricane Florence area. Tammie Hedges of Wayne County, North Carolina, apparently sheltered 27 animals (17 cats and 10 dogs) from fleeing families in a warehouse that she has been slowly converting into an animal shelter. Though the shelter had not been completed in the wake of last week’s storm, Hedges reportedly offered the space for use as a temporary shelter to animals in crisis.

She has experience with helping pets of those in need. Hedges runs a nonprofit organization called Crazy’s Claws n Paws, says CBS 17. The purpose of the group is to help low-income families and people who would otherwise struggle to receive affordable pet care gain access to vet care, pet supplies, and more. Hedges was able to use her nonprofit’s connections to raise funds and receive emergency supplies for the animals. She also found enough volunteers to help out that someone was there to care for the animals 24/7.

The problem came Monday after the storm when Hedges reportedly received a phone call from Wayne County animal services manager Frank Sauls. Sauls apparently asked her to shut down her emergency operation and asked her to hand the animals over to his department.

“You can voluntarily hand over the animals, or I can go get a warrant,” Sauls reportedly told Hedges. Hedges surrendered the animals, says CBS 17, but could still be facing charges for her emergency shelter operation. While she acknowledges that her shelter was not licensed, Hedges stated that she doesn’t feel charges would be fair, as she was just trying to help in a time of emergency.

“We’re not just gonna let (the animals) suffer and die and drown,” she said.

Wayne County had opened its own emergency animal shelter prior to the storm, but Hedges said that victims were having trouble making contact with the department, which is why she helped.

Hedges is not the only citizen in the area to help pets during this time of emergency. CBS News reports that a man named Tony Alsup drove a bus from his home of Greeneville, Tennessee, to the hurricane’s path in South Carolina. He worked in the days leading up to the storm, loading animals from shelters and homes that would be in danger, and transporting them to safer shelters out of the hurricane zone. As of Tuesday, it was reported that Alsup loaded up and saved 53 dogs and 11 cats in his rescue operation.