PETA defendants in North Carolina animal killing are acquitted of cruelty, convicted of littering
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2007:
WINTON, N.C.–A Hertford County jury on February 2, 2007
cleared PETA staffers Adria J. Hinkle and Andrew B. Cook of cruelty
charges, after a two-week trial, but convicted both of littering
for leaving dead dogs and cats in a dumpster.
The animals were taken from animal control holding facilities
in Hertford, Bertie, and Northampton counties.
“The two were each given a 10-day suspended sentence, 12
months of supervised probation, 50 hours of community service, and
a $1,000 fine. They will split the $5,975 restitution costs,”
reported Lauren King of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
“Their van will be confiscated,” added Samuel Spies of
“The important thing is the jury recognized they were never
guilty of cruelty,” said PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo. “We’re
relieved, we’re happy.”
Hinkle, 28, of Norfolk, Virginia, and Cook, 26, of
Virginia Beach, were arrested by an Ahoskie police stakeout on June
15, 2005. The Ahoskie police had been investigating abandonment of
animal remains in the dumpster since May 2005.
Hinkle and Cook acknowledged killing the animals by lethal
injection in the back of a PETA van, but contended that the killing
was necessary euthanasia.
Each initially faced 21 felony cruelty counts, plus seven
counts of littering. Hinkle was additionally charged with three
counts of obtaining property by false pretenses from Hertford Colunty
veterinarian Patrick Proctor.
Superior Court Judge Cy Grant reduced the charges to eight
misdemeanors before sending the case to the jury. Grant ruled that
the prosecution failed to prove malice, essential for a felony
“Employees of the Ahoskie Animal Hospital testified that
Hinkle had asked whether a mother cat and two kittens had names, and
promised everyone in the office, including a 9-year-old girl, that
she would find them homes,” summarized Raleigh News & Observer
staff writer Kristin Collins. “Hinkle euthanized them a few minutes
Wrote Spies, “Hinkle testified that she told the hospital
she would take good care of the animals,” without stipulating how.
Much of the trial focused on similar cases. “A Bertie County
animal control officer testified that Hinkle said she would have ‘no
problem’ finding homes for two Dalmatians named Annie and Toby,”
recounted Collins. “The dogs were dead before they left the
shelter’s parking lot. The same officer said he handed over his own
dog, a terrier named Happy, because he had had trouble housebreaking
the dog. Hinkle sent him a picture of the dog in a garden, standing
in front of a house, but didn’t mention that the dog had been
euthanized upon arriving at PETA headquarters,” Collins added
Wrote King, “The defense called veterinarians, PETA staff
members, and a former local police officer who initially asked PETA
for help at the Bertie animal shelter. They testified that PETA’s
euthanasia policy was not a secret, even to those who testified for
the state. The defendants apologized for dumping the animals, but
said it was a very hot day, and the smell in their van was
unbearable. Hinkle also admitted using the trash bin at least one
other time to dump animals,” King added.
PETA director of domestic animal and wildlife rescue Daphna
Nachminovitch testified that PETA policy is to keep animals’ remains
at the PETA headquarters in Norfolk until they can be cremated, and
that records describing each animal and the drugs used for killing
the animal are kept on file, as required by federal and state law.
“However, records were not kept of the animal carcasses when
they were deposited in the freezer,” King recounted of the
testimony, “so Nachminovitch said she had no way of noticing if
animal carcasses were not being returned to Norfolk. Nachminovitch
also testified that PETA has a policy that requires people to sign a
form when surrendering animals,” King continued.
“In Virginia, that form gives the agency the authority to
immediately euthanize the animal. Nachminovitch could not produce any
forms signed by any Bertie County officials or the Ahoskie Animal
Hospital, but said the form is not required in North Carolina.”
PETA drug use also came under scrutiny. “Brian Reise,
division group supervisor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in
Greensboro, testified that although PETA is registered to use
controlled dangerous substances in Virginia, that does not transfer
to North Carolina,” King reported.
But PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr testified that in 2000 he
was told by the Drug Enforcement Agency office in Washington D.C. and
several Virginia and North Carolina authorities that PETA staff could
use pentobarbital to kill animals in North Carolina.
Hertford and Northampton county officials admitted to Collins
of the News & Observer before the trial that they did not ask many
questions when PETA volunteered to take animals from them.
“All I knew was they came in, they said they had X-amount of
animals, and they were carrying them to Virginia, and I didn’t
question them,” said Hertford County animal control chief Charles
Jones, who is also the county fire marshal and head of emergency
medical services and emergency management.
“The verbal agreement was, if they felt like the animals
could possibly be adopted, they would be,” said Northampton County
animal control director Sue Gay. “We thought at least some of them
were being adopted.”
“Soon after the arrests” observed King, “Bertie,
Northampton and Hertford counties discontinued or suspended work with
PETA. PETA continues to offer services in the region, but Bertie
County has taken back full control of its animal shelter. The dog
shelter has been renovated. New fencing surrounds the area,” King
said, “and a metal roof shades half of the open dog run. A small
puppy pen is similarly outfitted. In all, capital improvements cost
the county about $9,200.
“PETA’s cat shelter is still on the property but rarely
filled with cats,” King continued. “Most are taken to the
Powellsville Pet Clinic, which tries to arrange for their adoption.
Dogs can be adopted by contacting shelter director Barry Anderson or
animal control officer Skip Dunlow. Animals who are not adopted are
euthanized by a veterinarian who visits once a week.”
Bertie County manager Zee Lamb told King that the county is
planning to build a shelter in partnership with the local SPCA.
Hertford County has also reclaimed its animal control program
from PETA. “County manager Wayne Jenkins said a new shelter is in
the five-year capital plan, and will be a topic of discussion when
next year’s budget is drafted,” King wrote.
While Hertford, Bertie, and North-ampton counties “no
longer give animals to PETA,” Collins noted, “the town of Windsor,
in Bertie County, still turns over all its stray animals to the
group. ” Even after the prosecution, Collins wrote, “Town
administrator Allen Castelloe said he has never checked into what
PETA does with the animals.”