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.”
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.
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…