Success! Charges Dropped Against Rescuer Who Saved 27 Pets from Hurricane Florence

The outrage of thousands of animal lovers, including 30,000 Care2 readers, has convinced Wayne County, N.C. officials to drop all criminal charges lodged against Tammie Hedges.

Hedges is the animal hero who kept safe over two dozen abandoned pets from the perils of Hurricane Florence.

Hedges owns the non-profit Crazy’s Claws N Paws in Goldsboro, N.C. She founded the non-profit to help those pet owners struggling with veterinary bills and pet supply costs. As Hurricane Florence threatened destruction and flooding beyond belief, Hedges didn’t evacuate. Instead, she stepped up.

She had warehouse space she’d been renovating to use as an approved animal shelter. She turned it into an area fit to temporarily house animal victims of the hurricane. She brought in crates, animal kennels, kitty litter, food, blankets and other supplies. She used social media to ask for donations to help with this effort.

As the storm hit, Hedges and her volunteers sheltered over two dozen animals abandoned to their care by fleeing owners. Eighteen of them, many in poor condition, were dropped off by one elderly couple just before the storm hit.

What was her thanks for going above and beyond for these innocents? Several days later, Wayne County authorities arrested Hedges over some ointment and antibiotics.

“We were trying to help abandoned animals,” Hedges told the News-Argus of Goldsboro. “A group of us got together to do something to help those animals. [That's] why we opened our building to them, so they’d have a safe dry place to go until their owners returned to get them.”

Law enforcement arrested Hedges on 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license — eight counts of administering amoxicillin, three counts of administering triple antibiotic ointment, and one count of administering Tramadol. She was also charged with one count of solicitation of a schedule IV controlled substance (Tramadol).

That sounds bad, doesn’t it? What was Hedges actually doing, though? Simply put, she gave antibiotics and ointments to ailing animals in her care — during dire circumstances in which there was no veterinary care to be had.

With hell literally raining down upon them — and with innocent animals who would easily have drowned or died without Ms Hedges’ involvement — what the police ended up worrying about was whether Hedges was inappropriately “practicing medicine without a veterinary license” for a few hours.

“It was all over-the-counter stuff you could literally find at Dollar Tree,” Raina Nyliram, a volunteer with Crazy’s Claws N Paws, told USA Today. “She couldn’t get the animals to the vet because the vet was closed.”

Why was it necessary to provide this type of care at all? According to the volunteers, the animals’ condition demanded it.

“Many of the animals were sick, injured and neglected,” a volunteer told The Washington Post. “Some cats were covered with so many fleas that volunteers had to scrub their playpen with bleach twice. One cat had a bleeding cut on its neck, and Hedges treated the wound with an ointment she bought from a Dollar Tree store.”

According to the Crazy’s Claws N Paws Facebook page:

We opened our indoor yard sale space to help these animals. A few independent rescuers went out, saved these animals from being flooded, & brought them to safety with us. Currently, there is no city, county, or state plan for natural disaster displaced animals.

Things need to change in Wayne County and NC overall!

Indeed, they do.

Thankfully, the tidal wave of public support for Hedges and the shocked outrage expressed by so many via petitions and phone calls eventually swayed Wayne County District Attorney Matthew Delbridge. He dropped the charges against Hedges.

A now-closed GoFundMe page set up to assist Hedges with legal fees sought to raise $20,000. It easily raised over twice that amount. Now that the charges are dropped, those funds will be refunded to anyone who requests it.

The rest will pay any legal fees this situation generates for Hedges, and the remainder will “go towards animal care, remodeling our current site to the Department of Agriculture’s policies, and if enough, purchase some land to have a no-kill shelter built upon.”

What of the 27 animals? Hedges voluntarily surrendered the animals to authorities when they demanded it. Those animals went to Animal Control to await a reunion with their humans. What happens to them if no one comes remains an open question.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to you, Care2 readers. A whopping 30,000 of you added your names to a Care2 petition demanding justice for Hedges. She did what was right under the circumstances. She had to, because those animals had no options left.

North Carolina, that situation needs to change. You have not proved your state to be particularly animal friendly in recent years.

Until change occurs, animals will have to rely on generous souls like Tammie Hedges to save them.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

142 comments

La'neSa'an M

Thank you for a follow up story Susan Bird. It is good to know when there is a successful outcome. Thank you community. Thank you Crazy's Claws and Paws.

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Shirley Layfield
Shirley L22 days ago

I am so pleased these crazy charges were dropped. Thank you for sharing! ^_^

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Autumn Brook
Autumn Brook26 days ago

I am so overjoyed to learn this God Bless you Tammie and all the wonderful animal servants who loved and treated so many defenseless creatures great and small Thats the heart beat of America right there in NC I can feel it

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Michael Friedmann
Michael Friedmann2 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Peggy Peters
Peggy Peters2 months ago

This is great news and exactly the kind that Care2 should be more focused on!

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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