RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – A total of approximately 120 animals have been rescued over the past few days from a Hoke County home.
Animals including dogs, cats, birds and horses have been in protective custody since Thursday.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are assisting the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office with collecting evidence, removal and care of animals from an animal shelter in Raeford.
Around 60 dogs were found in the home and all of them are set to be removed Monday. The second largest group of animals inside the home are cats.
Officials say a veterinarian notified law enforcement after a horse from the property had to be euthanized because of malnutrition.
After securing a search warrant on Thursday, authorities discovered dogs, horses, cats, goats and birds on the property. ASPCA officials say some animals were kept in “filthy” kennels and were deprived of food and water. They say animals appeared to be suffering from untreated medical issues.
“We’re pleased to offer assistance and resources to help local authorities address animal cruelty issues in their community,” Director of Investigations for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Kathryn Destreza said. “Our immediate goal is to provide medical care and behavioral enrichment for these neglected animals at our temporary shelter.”
Maureen Lee, 43, was charged with one count of felony animal cruelty. Additional charges are pending upon evidence being collected.
“I would say that she didn’t go to these shelters to intentionally bring them here and then intentionally neglect them. The intent to neglect them came in when she failed to provide the care that she knows that they needed,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations with the ASPCA. “I think, possibly, she thought she was doing the right thing, but I have to believe that the reality is at some point she knows she’s not doing the right thing by these animals and that’s inexcusable.”
Lee declined to talk about the case to CBS North Carolina after her first court case appearance last week. Her next court date is August 10.
Currently Lee is out on bond and has been ordered to avoid contact with the animals to prevent interference with the investigation or cleanup.
This is the second large-scale animal rescue case in Hoke County this year.
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.
Thirteen more charges were added in June.
Approximately 700 animals were rehabilitated and adopted in that case.