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Hoke shelter owners face more animal cruelty charges

Posted June 3

ASPCA workers removed hundreds of animals from a Hoke County shelter on Jan. 28, 2016, following a raid the previous day that resulted in animal neglect charges against the owners. (Photo courtesy of ASPCA)
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— Hoke County authorities said Friday that they have filed more animal cruelty charges against the owners of a shelter where hundreds of neglected animals were seized in January.

An additional 13 counts each were filed against Linden and Stephen Spear, who own The Haven – Friends For Life shelter near Raeford. Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said the new charges were based on medical reviews of the more than 600 animals taken in the Jan. 27 raid.

Officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called the raid, which also found "dozens of deceased animals" buried throughout the 122-acre property, the largest companion-animal raid the animal welfare group has conducted nationwide in the last 20 years.

ASPCA officials said they had received complaints about sick animals being adopted from the shelter. Animals were kept in dirty cages, kennels, outdoor pens and paddocks, they said, and many had no protection from the elements.

The Haven was operating without a license for about a decade, according to the ASPCA, and past inspections by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services deemed the facility “inadequate." Agriculture department officials said inspectors tried to work with the Spears to bring the shelter into compliance.

All of the seized animals that were well enough for adoption were sent to new homes during a weekend event the ASPCA hosted in March.

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  • Kristi Howard Jun 4, 2016
    user avatar

    There is a lot more to this story than is being reported, and I'm sure many aspects of it that will never be told. These were good people who were helping animals, destroyed by greed and lies. Put your pitchforks away.

  • Mary Meadows Jun 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Hold your judgements. There are two sides to every story. I've read that a lot of very sick and neglected animals were dropped of there and they did not turn away any animals and did not operate a kill shelter. I think they were in way over their heads and I believe that the state was complicit in this because they allowed this to go on for so long. I feel as though the very people who are on here calling for them to be punished to the maximum are being somewhat hypocritical. If you are that passionate about animals where were you when this was in the paper God knows how many times? This wasn't a new story. Did you read about & shake your head, post a snide comment and then move on or did you try to help? By help I mean something as simple as following up with officials with a phone call to see what was being done? if anger needs to be directed at anyone it's the ones who had a dog get sick, or bought one that just became too much work, didn't spay & decided to drop off!

  • Brandon Blanchard Jun 3, 2016
    user avatar

    I rank people like this right up there with child predators. Sickos. I hope they are prosecuted to the max.

  • Steven Camilli Jun 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Bring the hammer down on these people please.