- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

SANFORD, N.C. (AP) - About 600 dogs and cats seized from an unlicensed shelter in Hoke County are ready for adoption later this month now that the owners have surrendered them, officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say.

The 696 dogs, cats, birds and horses seized in January from The Haven-Friends for Life shelter were surrendered to the ASPCA on Thursday, said Tim Rickey vice president of field investigations and response for the agency. Of those animals, more than 600 dogs and cats will be available for adoption March 18-20 at the temporary shelter in Sanford, Rickey told the Fayetteville Observer (http://bit.ly/1OWCCt0 ).

The adoption fee will be waived, and every animal will be micro-chipped, spayed and neutered before adoption. “We will have hundreds of animals that are healthy and happy to go into a home,” Rickey said. “The focus is getting these animals into homes.”

People who want to adopt a dog or cat should bring identification, proof of address and an appropriate-size carrier for the animal they adopt.

Linden Spear and her husband, Stephen, were charged with four counts of animal cruelty and three counts of possession of a controlled substance, stemming from an animal medication not authorized on the property. The couple also was served a misdemeanor criminal summons for violation of a solid-waste disposal ordinance. Authorities say animals and feces were found in plastic bags throughout the property.

Rickey said he couldn’t go into details other than to say that the Spears did agree to surrender the animals.

The Haven’s last certification from the state expired more than 10 years ago, and the state denied the shelter an operator’s license Jan. 26. The next day, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office shut down the shelter as ASPCA staff and other volunteers cleared the 122-acre property of animals.

During the four-day seizure, dozens of animals were found buried in makeshift graves. One dog and one cat were euthanized because of health problems. Some animals were treated for emaciation, open wounds, ringworm, respiratory illnesses and other issues.

The Spears’ next court date is scheduled for April 20 at the Hoke County Courthouse.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com

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