120 Animals Seized in Hoke Co, ASPCA Swoops In

A veterinarian in Hoke Co, NC filed a report with police after euthanizing a horse, reportedly for malnutrition.  The sheriff’s office obtained a warrant for the property, where a rescuer had been housing animals saved from pet killing facilities, and found approximately 120 animals, including horses, dogs, cats, goats and birds:

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said this is one of the worst cases he has seen in his 14 years as sheriff.

“It was sad to see those animals. It’s like they were happy to see us, the minute we opened the barn to let the horses out, they ran out and wanted to eat on the grass.”

Happy horses in a barn. Hmm. I am not a horse owner but that doesn’t sound particularly damning to me. I am guessing that most horses are probably happy to be let out of their shelter and like to run out and chomp-chomp on the grass. So how bad off were these 120 animals?

“There is no way she could not have seen what we saw. No way she couldn’t have known these animals were suffering and dying,” Peterkin said.
“Had we not gotten notification when we did, we would have a lot of dead animals.”

Wow. So these animals were literally on the brink of death. Gasping their last. Clinging to life. Skin stretched over their bones, presumably.

hoke co dog
via FayObserver.com
wncn hoke co dogs
via WNCN

The dogs look ok to me, although a few are a wee bit chubby. But in keeping with the drama, the sheriff called in the ASPCA to take all the animals away. And to rag on the owner some more:

“I would say that she didn’t go to these shelters to intentionally bring them here and then intentionally neglect them. The intent to neglect them came in when she failed to provide the care that she knows that they needed,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations with the ASPCA. “I think, possibly, she thought she was doing the right thing, but I have to believe that the reality is at some point she knows she’s not doing the right thing by these animals and that’s inexcusable.”

She has to believe that at some point there was wrongdoing. She just has to.  Because otherwise that would mean there was no wrongdoing.  And they just took someone’s animals away for no reason.  Which would be – erm, inexcusable.


When deputies searched the property last week, Destreza said, they found animals had no food, no water and had received no veterinary care.

“To me, that’s a tragedy,” she said. “They should have been better off then they had been.”

They apparently had food and water. Let’s not pretend that the tubbos were starving to death. As for vet care, I can’t say. I don’t even see an elbow callous or long toenails, let alone anything that would be described as a tragedy.  Now I will grant you 120 animals is an awful lot for one person to take care of, IF that was the case here, which I don’t know.  Maybe she needed some help?  Maybe placing some of the animals would have gotten her down to a number she was better able to care for?  Maybe the ASPCA could provide some education on how to find permanent homes for pets so she doesn’t get overwhelmed in future?  I guess that all sounds like work.  And not at all sexy.  Better to yell tragedy and worst I’ve ever seen and imminent mass death and get those photos for the fundraising emails and on to the next.

The rescuer has been charged with one felony count of animal cruelty and is due in court next on August 10.  She has been ordered by the court to have no contact with the animals while the ASPCA finishes hauling them off.

I wish the Hoke Co pound would start doing its job and actually sheltering animals instead of killing them.  Imagine how the community could work together to save animals if there was a true shelter in place.  Rescuers could partner with the shelter instead of operating in crisis management mode year round.  Law enforcement could shift their focus to other priorities, knowing the county’s lost and stray pets were safe.  And the ASPCA could go home and stay there.

(Thanks Lisa.)

11 thoughts on “120 Animals Seized in Hoke Co, ASPCA Swoops In

  1. The horses do look a bit ribby, but for all I know, she’s in process of putting weight ON them – I have no idea how long she’s had them. Or maybe they’re all founder horses that you have to be careful with how much grass/feed they get? I admit that I know precious little about horses, but I do know that you don’t just turn them out on grass without finding out if that’s an appropriate thing to do, first.

    But the dogs all look good from what was shown in the video. I’m guessing that ribby horses was the worst they could document – normally you’ll see a feces-strewn house with dead animals all over the property and half-blind kittens roaming around with listless puppies laying in filth. So, if this situation was SO TERRIBLE, where is that? Something’s just not right, here.

    Was the horse that the vet euthanized suffering from malnutrition? Or from something that looked like malnutrition – like kidney disease or cancer? If someone wants to press abuse charges against me for something like that, I sure as hell would want a necropsy done by a third party.

    Speaking as someone who recently took in a very ill animal, I can tell you that you get looks at the vet hospital from people who don’t realize that you’ve only had this animal for a week and he’s actually looking a lot better than when you got him. People make judgements in the absence of information.

    Should she have had vet records/care? Absolutely. But I very much doubt she could afford it. The fact that there aren’t a million puppies running around makes me think that she kept intact animals separated, which is a good thing. And it does look like she was spending money on dog food, certainly.

    But no, this doesn’t look like an abuse situation on the face of it. Now maybe there was a pile of dead goats on her bed or something that they’re not telling us, but it really doesn’t sound like it, does it?

    What it sounds like is a perfect set up for “shelter in place” and getting vets and regular folk to volunteer services to get animals vetted and adopted out. But that’s not very sexy, is it?

  2. This sounds so much like my raid. The sheriff said the exact same things and so did the thieving groups that took my animals! I think they all read the same script. And how could with just the pic seen anyone say that anything is wrong with those dogs EXCEPT the thieves taking the dogs to justify their theft?

  3. An unfortunate perfect example of a “rescue raid” / “seizure scam” GOOD-FOR-RAKING-IN-THOUSANDS-OF-DOLLARS-IN-FREE DONATION MONEY “crisis rescue”, with all of the accompanying hand wringing, trashing of the animals owner, self-righteous “well do better by these animals by USING other people’s money we con them out of to look like the big HEROS”.

    I can only pray the owner can find an attorney to first defend them and then sue the hell out of their attackers as we’re doing with ours.

    If more of these narcissistic monsters that do these retail rescue raids had the sh*t sued out of them and had to present proof and facts in court of what they’re saying happened really was/is happening, we’d see far fewer of these scams that ate staged on social media that fill these people’s bank accounts with money, just as no one seems to care one bit what happens to ALL of the animals AFTER they are supposed to be “rescued”.

    1. Can you please provide more info about how you’re defending yourselves legally? That is very valuable experience & needs to be spread around. This is an alarming & growing trend (part of the war on rescues) & we really need to get on top of it.

      1. Civil lawsuits, small claims actions where applicable, and working with government agencies providing factual information on illegal activities that primarily donation-funded animal “rescues” are involved in.

  4. Money making opportunity complete with photo op, that’s how the ASPCA rolls. I also hope the woman finds a top notch attorney to sort this out. I’ve seen much worse than apparently healthy weight dogs and “ribby” horses. As mikken said, are they better now or worse than when she took them in? And, the horse that had to be euthanized, my first thought was underlying disease. This just does not feel right to me.

  5. Oh yes those healthy doggies so look starving and dying to me !!
    And these are the ONLY pics of this so called “Tragedy” ??
    Hmm, sounds more like the usual “Raiding for Profit” That MANY so called “Humane” Societies do, And she only got charged with ONE count of animal cruelty?? Out of the 120 animals she took care of.

    You all do realize that its one count per animal right? So apparently she only got charged for the emaciated horse that she rescued and called the vet to come out and treat it!!
    OMG such animal cruelty !!! Imagine calling a VET to cure an animal you had just rescued that was emaciated due to past owner neglect !! So cruel to call a VET to help an animal !!
    REALLY??????? Must have been a ASPCA Vet that saw $$$$ LETS RAID THIS PLACE DOLLAR SIGNS !!!

Leave a Reply