This is a follow-up to the article posted May 11 about the five dogs seized and four dead cats removed from the home of an NC animal advocate. None of this update is good news except the need being discussed for those in rescue to ‘police their own’ to prevent future tragedies.
According to the FOX46 Charlotte article Friday, May 12, Barbara Hart, 64, of Salisbury was arrested at her home Friday morning and charged with nine counts of animal cruelty. Her bond was set at $1,500.
Hart’s arrest warrant stated three dead and decaying cats were found behind a couch and a cat skull was located under the bed.
Thelma Stone, a neighbor to Hart, commented in an interview with FOX46
“She has been told several times and nothing has been done about it. How can you not half take care of them, and then just go down to Charlotte and forget about them up here? I’d like her to get the maximum due what she has done. Only God will have final judgment on her.”
The five dogs were taken to Rowan County Animal Shelter and were evaluated by the shelter veterinarian. A garage is reported to have contained empty animal cages but no food or water was available for them. The backyard was covered in feces, the warrant stated.
After her arrest, Hart was taken to Rowan County Detention Center and has a trial date of June 12, 2017. No information is available at this time as to whether she has bonded out.
Although this is a horrible case to report on, it has opened the door to discussion on social media on how those in rescue need to “police” themselves. A few people have commented on different Facebook threads that her rescue efforts were suspicious, but no one actually did anything.
It’s difficult to accuse a cat advocate with no proof, especially one with as good of a reputation as Hart presented on the surface. Someone suggested private residences need to be checked periodically, just to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.
Several in cat rescue have also stated there’s nowhere to turn when rescue work becomes overwhelming. Cat rescues are full and concentrate on saving shelter cats. Craigslist and freebie ads are dangerous not only to the cat involved but can draw harsh criticism to the person trying to rehome a cat.
There needs to be an outreach program for rescuers before they get in over their heads. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Until then, cat advocates have decided the need to be more vigilant has come. After Julianne Westberry and others in the Upstate who were caught with dead and decaying cats, Hart’s arrest has made those in the rescue community think twice about who they trust.
None of us know what happened with Barbara Hart. She hasn’t made a statement and has most likely been advised by an attorney to stay off of social media, as anything she says could be used against her in a court of law. It’s a shame if she needed help and couldn’t turn to even one of her friends. If she knew what she was doing and allowed her cats to die anyway, I don’t even want to think about that possibility…
For the record, no information about whether she had cats at another location or what happened to the 16+ neighbors claimed was at the home is available at this time. We can only hope she found homes for them.