Tammie Hedges, founder of Crazy’s Claws N Paws animal rescue, was arrested Friday and charged with several counts of illegally practicing veterinary medicine, after Wayne County animal control officers confiscated 27 dogs and cats from a temporary shelter run by the rescue during Florence.
Hedges is charged with 12 counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and one count of soliciting a schedule IV controlled substance. She was taken to the Wayne County magistrates office and later released on a $10,000 secured bond.
During Florence, Hedges and volunteers with Crazy’s Claws N Paws took in the animals at a temporary shelter at 152 N.C. 581 near the Rosewood community. The rescue organization is working to get the building licensed as a shelter, but is not yet, Hedges said. According to her, most of the charges stem from her administering amoxicillin to animals that arrived at the shelter sick. Another was for the use of a topical antibiotic ointment, which she said she got from a nearby Dollar Tree, and still another for the use of Tramadol, an opioid painkiller often used to treat pain in dogs and cats.
The charge of soliciting a schedule IV controlled substance came from Hedges’ attempt to acquire a donation of Tramadol, she said.
Hedges said she felt she had no choice but to aid the animals brought to her.
“Vets were closed. Had they left the animals there, we could have had a vet come out here, because some vets were open later, but we didn’t get that option,” she said. “During a state of emergency, you’re not going to find anybody open. I did what I’m supposed to do. I’m not about to let an animal be in pain and run a fever. When I have the availability and the supplies to help them, I’m going to do it.”
Hedges will have her day in court Oct. 17. She does not have a lawyer, yet, she said, but will have a consultation with one on Tuesday.
News of animal services’ confiscating the animals last week set off a wave of support for Hedges, accompanied by anger at everyone from Frank Sauls, Wayne County’s animal services director, to District Attorney Matt Delbridge. An online petition calling for Hedges not to be fined had more than 2,000 signatures as of late Saturday.
Wayne County released a Facebook statement on Friday acknowledging the incident.
“Wayne County Animal Services made contact with Ms. Tammie Hedges and upon entering the facility they developed serious concerns regarding the practice of veterinary medicine without a license and the presence of controlled substances,” the statement read.
According to the statement, the county confiscated all animals that did not belong to Hedges, and transported them to the Wayne County animal shelter.
“There was sufficient availability at the Wayne County animal shelter for all animals surrendered and no boarding fees were charged to the owners,” the statement read. “All animals surrendered were checked out by a licensed veterinarian and animal services is working to reunite them with their owners.”
Representatives with animal services and the animal shelter could not be reached for comment by press time.