Monday, June 20, 2005

Say It Ain't So, Joe: PETA charged with animal cruelty.

Two on PETA staff charged with cruelty to animals


© June 17, 2005

Two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were arrested on animal cruelty charges in Ahoskie, N.C., after investigators saw dead dogs being thrown into a grocery store garbage container Wednesday, according to the Ahoskie Police Department.

Ahoskie police conducting surveillance as part of a monthlong investigation reported finding 18 dead dogs in the container and 13 animal carcasses in a van registered to PETA and seized by authorities.

The cats and dogs were taken Wednesday from animal shelters in Northampton and Bertie counties, police said. Animals had been collected every Wednesday for four weeks, and carcasses had been found dumped in Ahoskie every Wednesday for about a month, Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said.

Two veterinarians said they were told that PETA would try to find homes for animals taken from their practices.

Adria J. Hinkle, 27, of the 1600 block of Claremont Ave. in Norfolk and Andrew B. Cook, 24, of the 500 block of Tree Top Drive in Virginia Beach were arrested on 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals.

Both posted $35,500 bail on Wednesday and have a first court date set for today in Winton.

PETA is investigating the incident. The organization has suspended Hinkle, who has worked for more than two years as one of its community animal project employees in North Carolina.

Cook, who was hired only weeks ago as her assistant, has not been suspended.

“We are appalled if this actually happened,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said. “We would absolutely never condone this behavior.”

Newkirk said of Hinkle: “She’s the Mother Teresa of animals. She’s a very kind, decent person.”

PETA says it routinely picks up animals at pounds to have them adopted or, if necessary, euthanized.

Shelter officials knew some of the animals, which are not always “cute, cuddly, housebroken or small,” would need to be put down, Newkirk said.

Among the dead animals, though, authorities found a female cat and her two “very adoptable” kittens taken from Ahoskie Animal Hospital, veterinarian Patrick Proctor said.

“These were just kittens we were trying to find homes for,” Proctor said. “PETA said they would do that, but these cats never made it out of the county.”

When Proctor evaluated one dead dog for police, he discovered a healthy, 6-month-old mutt with a needle mark on its front right leg, he said.

He also identified what he called a “death kit” that police found in the van. It was filled with syringes and two drugs that only licensed veterinarians can have, he said.

“PETA will never pick up another animal from my practice,” Proctor said.

PETA had taken 50 animals to be adopted from Proctor’s practice over the past two years, he said. PETA has also taken animals from veterinarian James Brown in Northampton County for about a year, Brown said.

“When they started taking them, they said they would try to find homes for them,” Brown said. “Nobody ever checked on them” after the animals were taken.

When PETA employees took animals from Brown’s practice in the past, they would tranquilize them and take them away in vans, said Karen Cole, the animal cruelty investigator for the Northampton Sheriff’s Office.

Some animals were very sick or injured and otherwise would have been euthanized in Brown’s clinic, she said.

“Some animals have to be euthanized,” she said. “But the way this crowd did it is sick.”

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