What happened to healthy cats

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

AHOSKIE – Dr. Patrick Proctor is puzzled.

On Wednesday of last week, the longtime Hertford County veterinarian handed over a mother cat and two kittens to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) representatives Andrew Benjamin Cook of Virginia Beach, Va. and Adria Joy Hinkle of Norfolk, Va.

The felines, all strays brought to Proctor’s business – Ahoskie Animal Hospital – were in good health, according to the local vet. He said there was no one on his list that had expressed an interest in adopting cats, so he contacted PETA.

&uot;They (Cook and Hinkle) came to the office last Wednesday and picked-up the cat and two kittens,&uot; Dr. Proctor recalled. &uot;So, imagine my surprise when I learned they allegedly dumped dead animals in a trash bin later that some day.&uot;

Cook and Hinkle were arrested late Wednesday afternoon after law enforcement officials, on a stake-out, observed the van in which the two were using stop at a dumpster located behind Piggly Wiggly in Newmarket Shopping Center and toss several black bags in the waste container.

It was later discovered those bags contained 18 dogs, including seven puppies. Thirteen other dead animals were found in the van, including a cat and two kittens.

The PETA duo face a combined 62 felony charges (animal cruelty) and eight misdemeanor counts each of illegal disposal. Additional charges were levied Friday – one count each of illegal trespassing.

On Monday, Dr. Proctor wanted to know if his cats were still alive?

Apparently not as Bertie County Animal Control Officer Barry Anderson said he was nearly 100 percent sure that a cat and two kittens were found among the 13 dead animals in the van. Anderson was part of a joint effort by Bertie and Ahoskie officials to track down those responsible for dumping dead animals in Ahoskie over the past three weeks.

Although Proctor said he does not use PETA’s services on a regular basis, he does call them from time to time to pick-up stray animals left in his care.

&uot;We do call them and request they come in and pick-up these animals and try and find them a good home,&uot; Dr. Proctor said. &uot;This cat and two kittens I gave them last week were in good health and were very adoptable, especially the kittens.&uot;

Proctor also addressed the euthanization process – saying it was a quick procedure where a lethal dose was injected into an animal, normally in one of the front legs. The medicine first travels to the brain and then the heart.

&uot;It takes only a few seconds for the medication to take affect,&uot; the vet said.

There were also concerns on whether Hinkle or Cook were properly licensed to administer the medication.

Proctor, citing North Carolina law, said only a licensed veterinarian can euthanize an animal. He said it was to his understanding that Hinkle was a licensed veterinarian’s technician, but they are prohibited from &uot;making irreversible changes to an animal.&uot;

&uot;I’m the only one in my office certified to put an animal to sleep,&uot; Proctor noted, making reference to the lethal medication.