A North Carolina woman who opened an emergency shelter to house over two dozen pets rescued during Hurricane Florence has been arrested.
Authorities say Tammie Hedges lacked proper permits when she used a space she was in the process of turning into an animal shelter to keep 27 pets out of the relentless storm, which killed over a dozen people and an unknown number of animal companions.
According to USA Today, Hedges runs a non-profit that provides low-income families with funds to offset the cost of veterinary visits. When the devastating storm hit, she decided to put her as yet incomplete shelter to use.
This past Monday, Wayne County Animal Control put Hedges on notice, telling her she had to either surrender the animals or they would get a warrant a take them.
Hedges voluntarily surrendered the animals and was later questioned by authorities. During that visit, she was arrested on charges including 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license.
In a Facebook post, a colleague at her non-profit wrote that many of the animals brought to Hedges were ill and she administered care and medication as the natural disaster unfolded and roadways, and a way to licensed vets, became impassable.
“She did what she needed to at that time til she could reach a vet,” reads the post. “If your animal was in that condition, would you want someone to leave them to get sicker or stay in pain?”
Now that Hedges has been charged and released on $10,000 bond, her supporters are asking the public to sign a petition urging authorities to drop the charges. A second petition on Change.org is asking North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper directly to intervene in the case.