Charges dropped against NC woman who ran Hurricane Florence animal shelter without permit

WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. -- Charges were dropped after a North Carolina woman was arrested for providing care for animals during Hurricane Florence without a permit, WRAL reports.

Tammie Hedges, of Wayne County, sheltered more than two dozen animals after their owners had to leave before the storm hit.

"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, according to USA Today. "We saved them."

Tammy Hedges initially faced  12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license. Officials reported Hedges gave medicine, including antibiotics and ointments, to the animals at her unregistered shelter. The charges were dismissed Tuesday.

Last week, Wayne County Animal Services reached out to her and Hedges voluntarily turned over the animals before she was arrested.

A veterinarian looked over all the surrendered animals, according to WRAL. Several have since been returned to their owners.

Wayne County District Attorney Matthew Delbridge said Hedges' actions put the animals' health at risk, but none of the animals were harmed.

Delbridge dismissed the charges so that officials could focus their efforts on more serious crime.

Delbridge added in a statement that the Hedges was previously reported for unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine. In this case, Hedges was charged with soliciting a schedule IV controlled substance, but that charge was also dropped.

“A passion for and the love of animals is laudable, but does not excuse unnecessarily putting their health at risk when other, safer resources are available,” he said, according to WRAL. “This was especially true in light of (Hedges) taking advantage of a dire situation to solicit money and opioid narcotics from our generous and well-intentioned citizens.”

Hedges owns Crazy’s Claws N Paws rescue center, which is volunteer and donations-based shelter, and was in the process of converting a warehouse into a proper animal shelter.

Leading up to the hurricane, the animals were dropped off at her warehouse, but the facility was not registered as an official shelter.

Some of the animals were injured or sick and Hedges provided medical care to them.(She breaks down the charges on Facebook).

Animal rescue volunteer Raina Nyliram said the drugs she administered were all over-the-counter medication. She said the animals needed to be cared for because the veterinarian’s office was closed.

Wayne County issued the following statement:

"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."