North Carolina woman charged after practicing veterinary medicine without a license while sheltering pets during Florence

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
September 24, 2018, 12:51:09 PM EDT

A North Carolina animal rescuer, Tammie Hedges, is facing criminal charges for allegedly practicing veterinary medicine without a license while sheltering more than two dozen pets during the devastation of Hurricane Florence.

Hedges runs Crazy's Claws n Paws, a nonprofit group that helps low income families with veterinary bills, pet supplies and other needs.

The shelter, along with independent rescuers and volunteers, came together during Florence to save animals, a Crazy's Claws n Paws Facebook post reads.

The nonprofit group created a Facebook post for donations of food and supplies. Volunteers also came out to help during the storm.

florence pets

A lady leaves a flooded home with her dog in a neighborhood inundated by water in Lumberton, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

“We had a plan. We had the calls for help, but we didn't know where to put the animals. Since we recently remodeled our indoor yard sale [area], very little had been moved back in. We decided to use this space as our emergency disaster center," the Facebook post reads.

Crazy's Claws n Paws is not open as a shelter. However, it is in the process of remodeling to become approved by the state as a shelter location.

During the storm, the group provided care to 27 animals in total, 17 cats and 10 dogs. Hedges said volunteers stayed with the animals 24 hours a day.

“We came together as a community during a difficult time to help,” the Facebook post reads.

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Photos: Volunteers work tirelessly to ensure safety of animals from Florence's wrath

On Monday, after Florence passed, Hedges received a call from Frank Sauls with the Wayne County Animal Control regarding the animals.

“He basically told me, 'You can voluntarily hand over the animals, or I can go get a warrant,'" Hedges wrote in the Facebook post.

She willingly surrendered the animals.

"A few days later they called me in for questioning and yesterday they arrested me," Hedges said.

The charges included 12 counts of practicing medicine without a veterinary license. The non-profit updated a Facebook post to breakdown the charges:

"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, and 1 count of solicitation to commit a crime," the non-profit writes.

The county issued a statement about the incident in a Facebook post:

"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."

The office said that all the animals that were surrendered were checked out by a licensed veterinarian and that it is working to reunite the animals with their owners, USA Today reported.

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