Five dogs seized and four dead cats removed from home of NC animal advocate

Update: WBTV released this update stating Barbara Hart was arrested Friday morning and charged with 9 counts of animal cruelty. Bond was set at $1,500.

The cat advocacy world woke up to the following article today from WBTV News. A very well respected Salisbury, North Carolina animal advocate is in trouble with the law.

“Search warrants served at the home of a vocal animal advocate in Salisbury reveal a home full of feces, urine, dead animals and a neighborhood problem with rats caused by conditions at the home. The warrants were served Wednesday afternoon at the home of Barbara Hart on Lincolnton Road.”

Facebook: WBTV screenshot

This announcement is devastating, as Barbara is one of the most respected advocates for kill shelter cats in North Carolina and was a key figure in getting the donations needed to build the new cat wing at Rowan County Animal Shelter. Her Facebook wall is filled with cats needing out of Rowan County before they’re killed (which happens quite often).

Another disturbing report is that she not only had dead cats in her home, she had dogs outside without food or fresh water. Master Deputy Patrick Schmeltzer of the Rowan Sheriff’s Office noted he could smell feces, urine and dead animals coming from inside the home.

It get’s worse, folks. The investigation is reported to stem from five years worth of complaints by the neighbors. The Board of Directors of Eaman Park Pool, which is located adjacent to Hart’s backyard, had also complained. Why did it take five years for complaints to be acted on?

Animal Enforcement Officer with Rowan County Animal Services, Eric Williams, noted in his application to conduct the search and seizureIn the backyard, there were several dogs. According to the warrant issued, two of the dogs were malnourished and had maggots eating the hair and flesh on their skin and three other dogs loose in the yard appeared grossly overweight. Five dogs were seized and four dead cats were removed from the home.

Neighbors state Barbara only comes by the house late at night and is only doing that a few times a week. They’re implying Barbara isn’t living at the home. Neighbors had seen at least 16 cats inside the home, but Barbara is said to have told those neighbors there were “many more than that in there.”

The cat rescue community is reeling, but they’re also asking questions. Some think Barbara was ‘set up’ by Rowan County Animal Shelter, as she hasn’t hidden her feelings for the facility with so many unnecessary cats being killed there. My big question, again, is why did it take five years for the county to take action if she was suspected of abuse.

Barbara is a top advocate for cats at Rowan

Still, dogs with maggots and dead cats in the home don’t look good. What of the remaining cats? There’s no mention of any live cats being seized. If the home was in such bad condition, I’d think the cats would be seized as well as the dogs.

Barbara hasn’t responded to anything on Facebook at this time. I really, really hate to think of Barbara acting like our notorious friend Julianne Westberry, who had the entire rescue community in at least three states fooled. The neighbor stating Barbara is only there at night and only a few nights per week and doesn’t actually live there is making me physically ill, as I kept up with her and the cats she sought to help via her Facebook page.

Is anyone closer to Salisbury aware of any information the news media is leaving out? This is so unbelievable, as Barbara fills her Facebook page daily with posts like the cat shown above who unfortunately didn’t make it out of the shelter alive.

Your comments are welcome. Someone, please tell me this is all a mistake…


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Five dogs seized and four dead cats removed from home of NC animal advocate — 18 Comments

  1. Animal advocacy had become a for profit charity.
    People often become overwhelmed at the amount of care and veterinary services needed to keep rescue animals alive or get them healthy enough to adopt out mix all of this in with the mental disorder of hoarding and we have one disaster after another popping up across the country.

    • I haven’t seen anything at all. People are saying this isn’t her primary residence so the situation is very confusing. I don’t know whether the cats are somewhere else or if they’d been adopted out.

  2. Stop me if you don’t want to go into it more deeply, but I think this kind of problem calls for real analysis. What is it that sometimes leads committed rescuers to go off the tracks? We don’t learn anything by simply calling them abusers — it’s more complicated. Is it that they take the weight of the world on their shoulders & then slowly decide that they can make their own rules? Or is it just a question of losing control of their situation? Is this a question worth pursuing? At the very least, I think it calls for rescuers to look in the mirror & ask whether they understand how this could happen.

  3. I’d be more than happy to write her side of the story if she wants to get in touch with me. I’m getting bashed big-time for even writing this article. So everyone go put on your rose-colored glasses and pretend this never happened.

    • I would SO LOVE TO HEAR HER SIDE, Elisa Black-Taylor!!! I also would LOVE to talk to you further on your Pinterest Page you are working on. I am working on a “little project” of my own, and would love to “compare notes”!!! Look me up on Facebook….photo of “eye with black cat on the lid”. Or I will look you up!!! Thank you!!!

      • I sent you a friend request. The Pinterest project is just all of my articles from Hubpages, PoC, Examiner, ShelterMe and others I’ve written for. I lost a lot when Examiner shut down but my daughter and I did manage to transfer 1400 out of 4999 to another website.

  4. It is disappointing that we have another animal advocate who in reality and in her personal life is anything but an animal advocate and more an animal abuser. It reminds me of Westberry.

  5. Correction: State v. Mauer was decided in 2010 — please read it. Maybe I wrote 1990 by mistake because I knew defendant as a self-sacrificing rescuer then & for many years thereafter.

  6. This is tragic! I have no direct knowledge of the case and do not know Ms. Hart personally, but I hope we look at it with compassion and a view to learning from it. If true, the facts bear a striking resemblance to those in the leading NC Court of Appeals case on animal seizure, State v. Mauer(1990). All rescuers should Google that case & ponder it. From decades of observation I believe there is a slippery slope caused by the David vs. Goliath role of rescues in relation to animal control. Rescuers are so incensed by the plight of impounded animals that the pressures of time & limited resources can lead to cutting corners & a feeling that the end justifies the means. As your readers know there are efforts to regulate rescues more tightly in NC. That will happen unless rescues regulate themselves in some way like other professions.

    • I DO look at it with ‘COMPASSION’, Mariana Burt…..FOR THE ANIMALS INVOLVED!!! I do agree, however, that something deeper has to be going on for someone like her to completely “derail”, if you will, like this!!!

  7. I am sick to death of people not reporting suspicious activity for years! If she had animals there and only came around late for a few nights a week, did the neighbors think she had a fairy bringing food and water??? Dead animals smell and still no response??

    I have inquired many times about animals I saw in the neighborhood possibly left with no food or water, and maybe left alone for more than a day. It’s our responsibility to see if the situation is right or not. Horrible, horrible…

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