Bertie ends relationship with PETA

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2005

WINDSOR – Daphna Nachminovitch pleaded her case here Monday night, but to no avail.

Nachminovitch, who serves as Director of Domestic Animals and Wildlife for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), appeared before the Bertie County Board of Commissioners in an effort to, in her words, &uot;repair our relationship with Bertie County.&uot;

That statement was made in regards to a pair of PETA employees, Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle, arrested in Ahoskie last week for animal cruelty and illegal disposal of dead animals. The majority of those 31 animals were picked-up from the Bertie County Animal Shelter on Wednesday.

Reading from a prepared statement, Nachminovitch said the ordeal &uot;has caused great harm to our work.&uot;

&uot;There is no excuse for such shocking conduct,&uot; she said. &uot;I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive us. PETA will do everything in its power to make amends and is open to your suggestions.&uot;

Nachminovitch touted PETA’s work in Bertie and surrounding counties, saying her organization had spent well over a quarter million dollars providing services for people and animals in several North Carolina counties. The organization also picks-up unwanted and discarded pets from the Bertie Animal Shelter, as well as from the Northampton County Shelter. She admitted that most of those animals were euthanized due to health conditions.

In Bertie County, Nachminovitch said PETA had cleaned the dog pens and constructed a cat shelter at the animal compound. She also cited over 900 instances of providing dog houses to county citizens as well as supplying food and straw, assisting in animal cruelty investigations and involving Bertie’s Animal Control Officer, Barry Anderson, in training seminars.

Bertie Board Chairman Rick Harrell thanked Nachminovitch for PETA’s involvement in the county, but maintained that the priority of the Board was, &uot;accountability to the taxpayers of this county and protecting the public’s perception.&uot;

Commissioner Wallace Perry quizzed Nachminovitch of PETA’s record keeping procedures. Perry wanted to know if records were maintained of how many animals were picked-up on each visit to the county’s animal shelter, how many were euthanized and the number that were properly discarded.

She answered that collection records at the shelter were maintained by the local animal control officer. She added that PETA was required by law to maintain records regarding euthanization and disposal.

However, in the case of the two PETA employees charged last week, Nachminovitch said, &uot;there was a trust issue that was broken.&uot;

&uot;We don’t want the actions of one employee to ruin our relationship with Bertie County,&uot; she said, making reference to Hinkle (PETA maintains that Cook was only a ‘ride-along’ on that day).

&uot;I believe your intentions are good and I believe you are a good-hearted person,&uot; Harrell noted.

Harrell then asked Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins of what other options the county had in lieu of PETA taking care of discarded and/or unwanted pets at the animal shelter.

Atkins responded by saying he had checked with Dr. Cheryl Powell, a Powellsville veterinarian. He said Dr. Powell was willing to euthanize the animals on a short-term basis while the county maps out a long-term solution. The Sheriff also said Dr. Powell had the means to properly dispose of the animals, using the cremation process.

&uot;My recommendation to the Board is to relieve PETA at this time of their responsibility as it pertains to dogs and cats in Bertie County while we assess our future needs,&uot; Harrell said.

&uot;Is there anything we can do to change your mind,&uot; Nachminovitch asked.

&uot;Not at this time,&uot; Harrell answered.

Harrell’s recommendation was approved by the Board, marking the second time in the same day that PETA’s services in the Roanoke-Chowan area were voided. Earlier on Monday, the Northampton Board of Commissioners suspended the county’s agreement with PETA pending the outcome of the case in Ahoskie.