What she believed was an act of compassion following Hurricane Florence ended in an arrest this week.
According to USA Today, Tammie Hedges owns an animal rescue center, Crazy’s Claws N Paws, and heard of animals in the region left behind as the storm approached.
In total, she moved 10 dogs and 17 cats into a facility managed by her non-profit organization.
“The owners got to evacuate,” she said in her defense. “They got to save themselves. But who’s going to save those animals? That’s what we did. We saved them.”
Law enforcement, however, saw her effort to keep the animals dry and safe as a violation of the law.
Police say Hodges was operating an unregistered shelter and practiced veterinary medicine without a license.
The suspect said she was contacted by someone from Wayne County Animal Control soon after the storm passed and threatened to obtain a warrant for her arrest if she did not surrender the animals.
“A few days later they called me in for questioning and yesterday they arrested me,” she said.
In a Facebook post, Crazy’s Claws N Paws described the antibiotics and other remedies Hedges employed as “over-the-counter stuff you could literally find at Dollar Tree.”
Wayne County Animal Services released a statement on the issue, explaining that the agency referred the case to county prosecutors “based on suspicion of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and presence of controlled substances.”
Supporters have started an online fundraiser in an effort to cover some of her legal expenses.
Both Hedges and volunteers at the facility say the animals were set to be reunited with their owners after the storm had passed. Instead, they are now under the control of county officials.
“If they can’t find the owners, the pets went from a safe place to a kill shelter,” Hedges said.
Animal control officers confirmed that the animals have been examined by a licensed vet and are in the process of being reunited with their owners if possible.
[Featured image: Tammie Hedges, GoFundMe]