Tammie Hedges decided to stay in her North Carolina home as Hurricane Florence passed through, but couldn’t bear to see her neighborhood pets go through the same.
So the Wayne Count resident took in more than two dozen animals — 17 cats and 10 dogs — for pet owners who were unable to take the animals with them as they evacuated. Now, Hedges has been arrested for her act of kindness.
As the USA Today noted, Hedges owns an animal rescue center called Crazy’s Claws N Paws and has been working to convert a warehouse into a proper animal shelter. Though the center has not yet met the requirements to legally serve as an animal shelter, Hedges figured it was better than risking the animals being killed in the hurricane.
“Our mission was to save as many animals from the flood that we could,” Hedges told USA Today. “We went through Hurricane Matthew and it was horrible. There were many preventable deaths.”
Others knew the work Hedges did and brought their animals to her as they fled the area ahead of Hurricane Florence. One elderly couple brought in 18 of the animals, the report noted.
But local officials did not agree with her plan, and on Friday arrested Hedges on 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license. The charges claimed she medicated the animals, but Hedges said they were all over-the-counter medications that she needed to give them herself because there were no vets open in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Tammie Hedges sheltered more than two dozen pets as the hurricane impacted North Carolina.
— ABC 13 News – WSET (@ABC13News) September 20, 2018
The hurricane has led to a rise in the number of stray animals brought to shelters, with some outsiders pitching in to help the animals. A group of workers from the group Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption in Kansas have traveled to North Carolina to help clear some of the animals from shelters where they might otherwise be put down.
As KSHB reported, the group came to the hurricane-ravaged area expecting to save close to 30 animals but instead took 80.
“I have never seen anything like it in my life,” Danielle Reno, CEO of Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption, said of the conditions the animals faced.
The group found there were “abandoned cars where doors were flown open and you could tell people had just grabbed all of their belongings and had to go,” said rescuer Savannah Dean.
Local officials have seized the animals that Tammie Hedges had taken in and said they are working to reunite them with their owners.