Dumping cases are
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 5:41 PM
AHOSKIE - David Harrell claims there are
similarities in several incidents concerning the discovery of
dead animals in Ahoskie dumpsters.
Harrell, the owner
of D&E Properties, a local business that manages Newmarket
Shopping Center and Ahoskie Commons Shopping Center, told the
Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald he remembers approximately nine
instances over an 18-month period where dead animals have been
found in commercial dumpsters located on the properties his
In each case, Harrell alleges the same
type of garbage bags were found with the dead animals inside.
He also pointed to the day of the week (Wednesday) in which
these dead animals were allegedly dumped.
"All of the
animals we removed from the dumpsters were in black,
commercial-strength garbage bags," Harrell said. "They were
the real, heavy-duty bags, the type that a person can't tear
open with their hands. You have to use a knife to open these
He continued, "Wednesdays seemed to be the
popular day for the dumping to occur. We would check the
dumpsters first thing on Thursday mornings and, sure enough,
there were the black bags containing the dead animals."
Late on the afternoon of Wednesday, June
15, Ahoskie Police officers discovered the same type of bags
in a commercial dumpster located behind Piggly Wiggly in
Newmarket Shopping Center.
A joint investigation
between the Ahoskie Police and the Bertie County Sheriff's
Office led to surveillance set-up on that particular day where
a white panel van was observed stopping alongside the
dumpster. A person in the van tossed several dark-colored bags
in the dumpster before the vehicle attempted to pull
A traffic stop was initiated on the van - a
vehicle registered to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals) based in Norfolk, Va. The van was occupied by
Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of 504 Tree Top Street, Virginia
Beach, Va. and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of 1602 Claremont Ave.,
They were arrested and charged with 62
combined felony charges of cruelty to animals and eight counts
each of illegal disposal of animals, a misdemeanor. An
additional charge of illegal trespassing was later filed
against both individuals.
The bags located in the
dumpster contained 18 dead dogs, including one bag containing
seven puppies. An additional 13 dead dogs were found in the
van, along with a digital camera and a tackle box containing
The Ahoskie Police executed a search
warrant to obtain the images on the camera while the tackle
box items are currently being examined by the SBI Crime Lab in
Meanwhile, Harrell stated he received a letter
from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, one citing PETA's
willingness to reimburse Harrell for his expenses in removing
The News-Herald obtained a copy of
Newkirk's June 20 letter to Harrell. It states, "If it is
true, as it appears, that our staff members have done this,
PETA owes you a huge apology. Such conduct is hideous and
absolutely violates PETA policy. Although the case is still
pending, I would like to pay for any expenses that you might
have incurred in dealing with body disposal or related
matters. Please let me have a bill for that and I will see
that it is promptly attended to."
company did not incur any costs in removing the animals from
the Piggly Wiggly dumpster on June 15. That chore was handled
by the Town of Ahoskie, who provided a backhoe and a Public
Works Department employee.
The 18 animals found in the
dumpster plus the 13 discovered later in the van were all
taken to the old Ahoskie Wastewater Treatment plant and
properly buried by town employees.
Harrell said he did
not solicit PETA for any sort of reimbursement. He added that
he was unclear if the letter was addressing the dead animals
he found in the earlier incidents.
"We've been involved
in the 8-to-9 other times that dead animals were removed from
the dumpsters at the shopping centers," Harrell noted. "When
the dead animals were found during the three weeks leading up
to the arrest of the two PETA workers, the town handled that
removal and burial as well. We took care of things prior to
the most recent stretch of four straight weeks where dead
animals were found. I can recall at least three times before
that when I had to tie-up my workers in removing and burying
But Harrell stopped short of blaming PETA
for those previous discoveries.
"It's not for me to say
or decide whether PETA was involved in those, that's a job for
the police and the courts to decide," he said.
said in each case he was involved in, approximately 20-to-23
animals were found. He said most, in his opinion, appeared
When contacted for a comment on Tuesday,
Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA's Director of Domestic Animals and
Wildlife, said while she hasn't seen a copy of Newkirk's
letter to Harrell, she felt certain Newkirk was addressing the
June 15 incident.
"Again, we apologize for what
happened in Ahoskie on June 15," Nachminovitch said. "I can't
tell you why Adria did what she stands accused of." (PETA has
maintained throughout that Cook was an innocent 'ride-along'
on that day.)
She continued, "All I can say that on
this particular day, Adria broke a matter of trust. She has
made many visits to the animal shelters in your area and has
returned to Norfolk with those animals."
PETA's record-keeping procedures, Nachminovitch said a log was
kept at the animal shelter by the county's Animal Control
Officer. She further explained that the PETA employee
picking-up those animals are required to log in the number of
animals they bring in daily to the PETA office in Norfolk.
When an animal is euthanized at the office, that paperwork is
forwarded to Virginia authorities.
this one incident has greatly impacted the work PETA has done
over the past few years in northeastern North Carolina. Two
counties, Bertie and Northampton, recently ended their animal
collection agreements with PETA.
"We built mutual
relationships with those counties," she noted. "We made it
clear from the start that not all of the animals we were
picking-up would find adoptive homes. Those that didn't would
be humanely euthanized. We felt we were making a difference,
an impact on the well-being of the animals there as well as
helping to educate the animal owners on safe and proper
measures to help bring the animal overpopulation problem under
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