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Shelter Operator Who Opened Her Doors To Displaced Pets During Hurricane Florence Is Facing Charges For Her Good Deed

UPDATE: The county has dropped the charges against Tammie Hedges. District Attorney Matthew Delbridge released the following statement – which confirms that the charges are dropped, but definitely does not apologize for the trouble the county caused Mrs. Hedges:

“The protection of animals and their well-being has always been an important concern, especially during times of natural disaster. 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. The removal of animals from a building that failed to meet suitable standards for license as an animal shelter and away from the control of this defendant who has previously been censured for the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine was a prudent decision made with the best interest of the animals in mind. This was especially true in light of her taking advantage of a dire situation to solicit money and opioid narcotics from our generous and well intentioned citizens. It is my desire that having ensured the safety of the animals in question, a dismissal of these criminal charges will minimize further distraction from my core mission of protecting the public from violent crime and allow the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board to take whatever action they may deem appropriate.”

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and it looks like one of the heroes who stepped forward during Hurricane Florence is now seeing repercussions for her actions.

As Hurricane Florence barreled towards North Carolina, those with pets scrambled to find shelter for them. Shelters and rescues offered boarding for those displaced by the storm. On September 12th, Tammie Hedges, owner of Crazy’s Claws and Paws, posted a Facebook message offering to board pets for those whose pets might otherwise be left behind. The Wayne County Animal Shelter also offered boarding for pets that day, but also stated that it was closing it’s doors on the 13th to those who needed a place for their animals.


Crazy’s Claws and Paws “Yard Sale Room” was undergoing renovations to be used as a shelter, but because of the emergency situation, they decided to quickly make it up to house the incoming pets displaced by the storm. Crazy’s Claws and Paws took in 27 pets who needed a place to stay during the hurricane. Tammy even offered to take in humans with their pets in exchange for help caring for the other pets.

However, once the storm had passed, Wayne County Animal Services got in touch with Tammie, claiming to have heard that the Crazy’s Claws and Paws had flooded. Representatives asked to see inside and, according to the shelter, demanded that she surrender the animals to their care before seeing the area where they were kept. The alternative was that they would come back with a warrant to take them. They claimed that because the room used to keep the pets was not registered as a shelter, she was operating it illegally. She surrendered the animals willingly and let their families know, but a few days later was called in for questioning and arrested anyway.

This comes as a shock to many animal lovers who believe that Tammie did the right thing. In disaster situations many owners have few options and leave their pets behind. Others do it willingly. Many animals never see their families again and others lose their lives.

Though Tammie does operate a licensed shelter, Wayne County has brought charges against her for the animals left in her care during the storm. Most of the charges are for “practicing veterinary medicine” without a license.

The shelter listed the charges against Tammie in a Facebook post:

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

1 count of solicitation to commit a crime (asking for donation of Tramadol (that was suppose to be a request for a vet)

Many of Tammie’s supporters argue that because the Wayne County Animal Shelter and veterinarian’s offices were closed during the storm and routes were flooded after, Tammie’s charges should be dropped. Others say that it is ridiculous to charge her for administering antibiotics to pets that owners entrusted to her care. Many praise her for opening her doors – registered or not – to those in need in an emergency situation. A petition has been circulating online to alert others and raise support for Tammie.

Wayne County has faced a nation-wide backlash on it’s social media pages but so far has not dropped the charges. They still have the pets in their care and are attempting to get in touch with their owners, but Tammie points out that if they cannot, those pets are stuck in a kill-shelter.

Do you think the charges against Tammie are fair, or should they be dropped?

Featured photo: screenshot/

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Written by Adriana Sandoval
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