A ride he’ll never forget

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

WINTON – Andrew Cook perhaps picked the wrong day to volunteer his services

Cook, employed by the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) in web based services, made his very first trip to North Carolina on June 15, 2005 as a volunteer with PETA’s Community Animal Project (CAP).

Late that afternoon, Cook, along with CAP Assistant Manager Adria Hinkle, was arrested by the Ahoskie Police Department on the charges of animal cruelty.

Testifying on Thursday in Hertford County Criminal Superior Court, Cook said he didn’t know exactly what to expect that day other than it would involve euthanizing unwanted dogs and cats at animal shelters in Bertie County.

At the Bertie Shelter, Cook testified he was involved in euthanizing 20 animals. He was instructed by Hinkle to bring the dogs to her one at the time inside a van the two were traveling that day. He would hold the dog while Hinkle injected the animal with a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital.

He testified to the condition of the animals at the shelter, including one with the worst case of mange he had ever witnessed.

After Hinkle completed her task, Cook said he cleaned the shelter, a chore taking roughly 30 minutes.

Cook said it was a very hot and humid day and with no curtain separating the passenger area and back of the van. He added the bags containing the dead animals were emitting an “overpowering” smell. He further stated he and Hinkle discussed the strong odor and decided to dispose of some of the bags at a dumpster in Ahoskie.

There, little did he know, that Ahoskie Police officers and other law enforcement officials were waiting due to the fact that previous dumpings of dead animals were discovered in the same dumpster.

Asked by his defense attorney, Mark Edwards, what life was like following his arrest, Cook said the impact was immediate. He testified that news cameras and other forms of media staked out his Virginia Beach apartment, so much to the point where he was evicted by his landlord. He added that the arrest also prevented him from doing volunteer work at the Virginia Beach SPCA.