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PETA workers face 25 felony counts in North Carolina

By DARREN FREEMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
October 15, 2005 | Last updated 11:24 PM Oct. 14

WINTON, N.C. — The cats and dogs two PETA employees have been charged with euthanizing and dumping in an Ahoskie garbage bin were killed by injections of pentobarbital, a barbiturate commonly used to put down animals, according to new warrants issued and served on Friday.

Additionally, the two employees were charged with three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. The charges allege that they euthanized three cats from an Ahoskie veterinarian after promising to find the animals new homes, according to the new warrants.

PETA employees Andrew B. Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, and Adria J. Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, were served with warrants on 22 felony charges of animal cruelty and the three felony charges of obtaining property by false pretense in court on Friday.

A grand jury is expected to consider formal indictments Oct. 31, Assistant District Attorney Donnie Taylor said.

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The new animal cruelty charges replaced 31 previous animal cruelty charges, which were dismissed.

The new warrants now include more information, such as descriptions of animals investigators found, the causes of death and – in some warrants – photographs of the dead dogs.

The new information was added to clarify the charges, which previously did not have such information as the cause of death, Taylor said.

The two employees are still charged with eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals and one count of trespassing.

Both have been released on $35,000 bail, and PETA is paying their legal fees. PETA suspended Hinkle for 90 days and did not discipline Cook.

Police began investigating this summer after carcasses of cats and dogs in plastic bags were found in a supermarket garbage bin in Ahoskie every Wednesday for four consecutive weeks. At least 80 animals were found.

Officers say that on June 15 they followed a van after it left Bertie County’s animal shelter, then staked out the garbage bins and arrested two PETA employees.

The officers found 18 dead dogs in a bin and 13 other animal carcasses in the van, which was registered to PETA.

PETA had been picking up animals in northeastern North Carolina since 2001, when a caller informed the group of poor conditions in shelters, according to a written apology PETA President Ingrid Newkirk sent to Bertie County officials.

Bertie County and Northampton County officials and one Ahoskie veterinarian said they believed that adoptable animals would find new homes, while sick, injured and wild animals would be euthanized.

Newkirk has since said that dumping the animals into trash bins violates PETA policy.

PETA typically euthanizes animals in Norfolk and cremates the carcasses, Newkirk said in a June 17 press conference.

Newkirk said at the time that the animals found in North Carolina had likely been given a lethal injection of a barbiturate that PETA is licensed to use.

Bertie and Northampton officials cut ties to PETA pending trial.

The counties are now euthanizing animals without help from PETA.

Reach Darren Freeman at (252) 338-0150 or darren.freeman@pilotonline.com.

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