Hoke County couple face more animal cruelty charges

Stephen Spear and Linden Spear of Hoke County face cruelty to animals charges. (Hoke Co. Sheriff's Office)

RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – A Hoke County couple charged with animal cruelty in January are now facing additional charges, officials said.

In January, 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.

The Spears were charged after authorities executed a search warrant on the Haven Animal Shelter after complaints from the public and other agencies.

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

There were nearly 140 investigators on the scene at the 180-acre property in January.

On Friday, the Spears were arrested again and charged each with 13 counts of cruelty of animals, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office said.

“The medical reviews concerning the seized animals has just been submitted and provided information to support the additional charges,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Around 700 animals, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs and birds, were seized from the property.

In March, Ehren Melius, a shelter director with the ASPCA, said the rescue was the ASPCA’s largest companion animal cruelty case.

“Cruelty is horrible regardless of the scale but to see it in this kind of numbers, where it’s nearly 700 animals that were that neglected, is pretty horrendous,” he said.

In March, the animals were put up for adoption during a three-day event.

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