The animals were rescued from The Haven Friends for Life in Raeford, N.C. — a no-kill animal shelter that houses hundreds of dogs, cats and horses, among other animals. It is privately run by Stephen Joseph and Linden Spear, who are now being charged with animal cruelty.
“If there is a chance for a happy, healthy life, I’m sure that everyone would do everything in their power to get (the animals) a new home,” said Laura Hoerning, co-chairperson of UNC Helping Paws, an animal awareness group on campus.
The rescue was executed through a partnership between the ASPCA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since it was too large for Wake County alone to carry out, said Darci VanderSlik, marketing manager at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County.
Tracy Heenan, a professor in the UNC School of Medicine, said shelters in North Carolina fall into two categories: state funded or private funded. Most of them fall under the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction and are not “no-kill” shelters, she said.
The ASPCA began to investigate the privately-run shelter when complaints began about sick animals being adopted. Investigators on the ground said the 122-acre shelter provided little housing for the animals, many of whom had serious injuries including open wounds and respiratory problems.
The ASPCA tweeted a snapshot of the rescue through a video, which showed dogs, cats and horses living in tiny, dirty conditions — some hardly able to walk because of broken limbs.
Many other animal shelters are already overcrowded in places, she said.
The ASPCA is keeping many workers at the shelter to provide ongoing care for the animals, but the next issue is where the animals will be housed.
Hoerning said transferring the animals could be an extremely costly business, and some of the animals deemed to be suffering too badly would most likely be euthanized.
The future of the animals is not the only thing in question — the shelter is also facing possible animal cruelty charges. Aimee Wall, a professor in UNC’s School of Government, said there are possibilities concerning governmental action and the shelter.
She said it’s possible that the shelter will shut down or have its permission to operate revoked. It could also face a change in leadership, she said, both because of the animal cruelty criminal case and a loss of funding from many of the private donors.
Hoerning said she hopes as people become more educated about inhumane treatments of animals, situations like this will become less likely.
“They are now in a facility where everyone is working hard to do what is best for the animals,” she said.