Woman charged after leaving kittens at shelter

August 9, 2013 4:16:34 PM PDT
Sarah Higgins loves animals.

Higgins tried to take care of more than a dozen cats at the house where she lives. They were cats - she said - that belonged to the daughter of another woman in the home who had moved out.

"We've been trying to get the older sister to take them somewhere.  They're her cats. She doesn't feed them.  She doesn't come buy litter for them," Higgins explained.

Higgins said finally she realized she had to do something.

"We got to find these cats a home," she said.

So, she took ten of them to the Johnston County animal shelter.

"The animal shelters will take them any time of day.  Usually, they'll have a drop box to leave them in," said Higgins.

But that's not the case in Johnston County. Animal Services allows animal surrenders on Tuesdays and Thursdays - and only by appointment. It doesn't say that on its website or in its recorded phone message.

Higgins told ABC11 when she got to the shelter it was closed and, because she was looking for a place to put the cats, she didn't see a sign warning people not to leave them when the shelter is closed. Higgins said she put all the cats in a carrier and left them at the front door under an awning.

Tuesday, Higgins was arrested and charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals and 10 counts of conveying animals in a cruel manner, all misdemeanors.

"I didn't know that I would get in trouble for trying to make some animals life better," said Higgins.

Higgins said she went back to the shelter to try and explain herself, but it was too late.

"It doesn't matter. You brought them here. It's illegal. You've been charged," Higgins said she was told.

Higgins now faces a court date in September.

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