Woman Arrested For Saving Animals Without A Permit During Hurricane Florence

Some people want to help the helpless, other choose to arrest the helpers.

Wayne County, North Carolina resident Tammie Hedges was arrested Friday because she would not sit back and let animals die during Hurricane Florence, according to USA Today.

As pet owners evacuated because of the coming storm, Hedges chose to care for 17 cats and 10 dogs, some injured, rather than run away and abandon the animals as their owners did.

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

Hedges owns Crazy’s Claws N Paws, a donation-based animal rescue center. She decided to use a warehouse she was renovating for work to help keep the pets safe, but police say the building was not legally considered a shelter.

Being someone who feels the need to serve and protect animals, Hedges says she could not simply abandon the innocent animals that were left behind.

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

Hedges says she was contacted by Wayne County Animal Control on Wednesday demanding she turn over the animals.

“He basically told me, ‘You can voluntarily hand over the animals, or I can go get a warrant,’ ” Hedges said.

Because they could care for the animals, she surrendered them. But she was told to come in for questioning 2 days later, when she was arrested.

The charges included 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license.

The group’s Facebook page says:

“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.”

“It was all over-the-counter stuff you could literally find at Dollar Tree,” said Raina Nyliram, 24, a volunteer who started a crowdfunding campaign for Hedges to help cover legal fees. “She couldn’t get the animals to the vet because the vet was closed. All the charges are bogus.”

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.”

The office said they are working to reunite the pets with their families.