Owners of a no-kill animal sanctuary in Hoke County, North Carolina, have been arrested after local authorities executed a search warrant and discovered neglected animals on their Raeford property, reported Wednesday’s WRAL News. Officials obtained a search warrant for property, owned by Stephen Joseph Spear and Linden Spear, after receiving complaints about conditions at their non-profit sanctuary, The Haven-Friends for Life.
Capt. John Kivett with the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office commented on the investigation’s initial finding, “You’ve got animals out here with open wounds…obvious skin conditions…animals that appear to be malnourished.” According to the Fay Observer, at least 600 animals are kept on the acreage operated by the couple.
The rescue agency’s description notes that approximately that many animals are in its care:
The Haven-Friends for Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit animal center located on 140 acres of farmland in Raeford, North Carolina. The Haven is currently providing No-Kill sanctuary to approximately 600 homeless pets. These pets are rescued, restored to health and then available for re-homing.
Tim Rickey, vice president of field investigations and response for the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) described the conditions at the sanctuary as “some of the worst things I’ve ever seen.”
In an ASPCA press release provided to the National Dog News Examiner, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin stated, “The condition of these animals is pressing and required immediate attention. In addition to protecting Hoke County citizens, law enforcement has an obligation to ensure the safety and well being of Hoke County animals at all times. We cannot and will not allow this type of mistreatment to continue any longer. All persons involved will be held accountable.”
According to the ASPCA press release, The Haven has been operating without a license and in violation of many requirements in the North Carolina Animal Welfare Act for at least ten years. The population of animals at the facility has fluctuated over the years, previously reaching more than 1,000 animals. Past inspections by the Department of Agriculture deemed the facility “inadequate”, citing the large number of animals as well as sick and injured animals without access to water.
Veterinarians are on hand to aid in the care of the animals who require treatment. The investigation remains active. The Spears were arrested and taken to an area detention center.
ASPCA donations for this rescue effort can be made here.
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