As hurricane Florence bore down on Goldsboro, North Carolina, Tammie Hedges, who runs Crazys Claws N Paws, an animal rescue group, volunteered to do a very nice thing. As families fled from the dangerous weather, those with nowhere to take their pets could drop them off at the nonprofit's empty warehouse, which they've been converting into a shelter. All in all, the group saved about 27 animals, including 18 cats from one elderly couple. Hedges wasn't commended for her actions, however...she had criminal charges pressed against her.
Tammie's only goal was to "get these animals out of the weather," but when animal services arrived to make sure the warehouse wasn't flooded, they "developed serious concerns regarding the practice of veterinary medicine without a license and the presence of controlled substances."
After being warned that animal services would secure a warrant if she didn't cooperate, Hedges surrendered all the animals to them and cooperated with their wishes. Shortly thereafter, she was charged with "12 counts of misdemeanor practicing or attempting veterinary medicine without a license and one count of solicitation of a Schedule 4 controlled substance."
@ABC13News And society wonders why so few people step up to offer a helping hand these days: you try and do a good… https://t.co/9wHgJY5q2Y— Jay Spainhour (@Jay Spainhour)1537478431.0
CCNP volunteer Leona Mozingo explained to Huffpost that many of the animals came into Hedges' care were badly injured or sick, but that there was no way to get them treatment from a veterinarian during the hurricane:
Everything was closed, and a lot of the roads were closed.
@ABC13News Good Samaritans are punished for their good deeds.— Pamela Kullo-Egelton (@Pamela Kullo-Egelton)1537719785.0
On their Facebook page, Crazys Claws N Paws claims the charges against them were largely unfounded—the "solicitation of a controlled substance," was referring to Hedges "asking for [a] donation of Tramadol" online. Tramadol is a painkiller commonly used on dogs and cats—one that Hedges hoped a veterinarian friend might be able to prescribe. Other charges against Hedges included her use of a "topical antibiotic ointment from a Dollar Tree store."
@ABC13News I'm not an animal lover, other than our own dog, but I have lived through a disaster like this and anyon… https://t.co/5G6tks9Q1D— Edward Maher (@Edward Maher)1537732981.0
Twitter was outraged that Hedges was being punished for her good deed.
@ABC13News Another thought; is this what we as a society represent? A police state where the individual is forced i… https://t.co/3ZyX2ZnzAw— Edward Maher (@Edward Maher)1537733284.0
@ABC13News Im so glad our gov't officials who are voted into office - are working WHAT REALLY MATTERS, in case of e… https://t.co/0AsE8oSPto— Amy Stickairy (@Amy Stickairy)1537739702.0
@ABC13News WTH? This woman goes out of her way to help animals in need during a crisis and instead of getting thank… https://t.co/ZlBNlkRzQ6— Missing Bunny Jack💔 (@Missing Bunny Jack💔)1537840641.0
@ABC13News What the hell kind of town is this???? What insane law would punish a woman for saving ANIMALS in time o… https://t.co/p90bdmQn9o— Jo (@Jo)1537659680.0
@ABC13News It is an outrage to condemn someone for doing the right thing as far as saving lives. Drastic circumstan… https://t.co/7LGjgTnCen— Nicholas W. Chiarito (@Nicholas W. Chiarito)1537724719.0
Woman helped rescue pets from hurricane flooded areas & now she may face charges. Officials want to charge Tammie… https://t.co/VPG6QRM5Nr— msMorgan1968 (@msMorgan1968)1537561904.0
@msmorgan1968 @UKChange Signed and shared with pleasure, it's flipping ridiculous💕— Samantha jane (@Samantha jane)1537703546.0
Following the public outcry surrounding Hedges's arrest, District Attorney Matthew Delbridge has dropped all charges against her, but also wants it to be clear he stands by them on principal. Delbridge claims Claws N Paws's warehouse "failed to meet suitable standards as an animal shelter," and that Hedges had "previously been censured" for practicing animal medicine without a license.
Nonetheless, Delbridge dropped the charges to "minimize further distraction from [his] 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."
The animals are now in the care of local animal services, who are attempting to reunite the pets with their owners as soon as possible.