Hundreds of animals involved as 2 charged at Hoke Co. shelter

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RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – Cruelty to animal charges have been filed against a massive animal shelter in Hoke County, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

The search warrant was served on the Haven Animal Shelter after complaints from the public and other agencies.

Stephen Joseph Spear, 67, and Linden Spear, 59, were charged with three counts of felony possession of a controlled substance and four counts of cruelty to animals. Both were given $5,000 secured bond.

Linden Spear is listed as the shelter’s executive director on its website. The shelter has been in business for at least 20 years.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are more than 600 animals on the property. There were nearly 140 investigators on the scene Wednesday at the 180-acre property. The animals there included dogs, cats, birds, horses and pigs.

Some of the animals had open wounds, others with severe respiratory disease.

“Some of that is living environment, some of the buildings insufficient very unsanitary environment for the animals,” said Tim Rickey with ASPCA.

The animal shelter was also deemed inadequate by the Department of Agriculture during past inspections and received several complaints throughout the years.

The Sheriff’s Office said the initial investigation revealed that four animals were in such bad shape that cruelty to animals charges were pursued.

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