Stephen Spear, 67, and Linden Spear, 59, managers of The
Haven-Friends for Life, a private no-kill shelter in Raeford, North
Carolina, were arrested on Wednesday and face charges of animal
cruelty and possession of a controlled substance, according to the
Hoke County Sheriff's Office. Raeford is about 110 miles east of
Workers with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals recovered almost 350 dogs, more than 280 cats, 47 horses and
some farm animals from the 122-acre shelter over three days, said
group spokeswoman Kelly Krause.
It was the 150-year-old organization's largest ever U.S. case
operation for suspected cruelty to companion animals, although
larger rescues have been conducted for cock fighting operations,
"The main issue here was neglect," said Krause. She said the animals
were in "really filthy" conditions, and some animals had open
wounds, were emaciated and had upper respiratory disease. One dog
has a broken leg.
"It's not an uncommon situation with no-kill shelters," said Krause,
referring to shelters which promise not to euthanize animals who are
The ASPCA was sheltering the animals in an 80,000-square foot (7,432
square m) warehouse in the central part of North Carolina, where
about 90 people were taking care of them and 10 veterinarians have
started medical examinations, Krause said.
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Since the animals are considered evidence in a criminal case, the
non-profit plans to shelter them until a court determines their
The state agriculture department's animal welfare section conducted
at least 10 inspections of the unlicensed shelter since January
2009, according to online records.
Last Tuesday, the department denied the shelter's request for
registration, citing numerous problems including lack of fresh water
and proper shelter.
The Spears, who have been released on bond according to local media,
could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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