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PETA case goes to Superior Court

WINTON – The case against two PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) employees arrested June 15 in Ahoskie now moves to the Superior Court level.

On Oct. 31, the Hertford County Grand Jury formally indicted Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va. and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, Va. on 22 felony counts each of cruelty to animals as well as three counts each of obtaining property by false pretense.

The latter charges stem from the three cats/kittens allegedly picked-up by the pair on June 15 from Ahoskie Animal Hospital (AAH). Dr. Pat Proctor of AAH said Cook and Hinkle had promised to give the animals a good home. However, the mother cat and her two kittens handed over by Dr. Proctor to the PETA pair were later discovered among the 31 dead animals linked to Hinkle’s and Cook’s possession on the day of their arrest.

Proctor said the cat and two kittens were all in good health and were adoptable.

The illegal dumping and misdemeanor trespassing charges as originally issued remain a part of the case against the pair.

Cook and Hinkle are scheduled for a plea administrative hearing sometimes during the first two weeks of January, 2006. According to law, if they enter pleas of not guilty, they cannot be placed on the Superior Court trial docket for at least 30 days.

The pair was arrested by the Ahoskie Police Department late in the afternoon of June 15 after law enforcement officials, on a stake-out, observed a white van in which the two were operating stop in an area located behind Piggly Wiggly in Ahoskie’s Newmarket Shopping Center and toss several black bags in a commercial dumpster.

At that time, a traffic stop was initiated on the van, a vehicle registered to PETA.

The bags located in the dumpster contained 18 dead dogs, including one bag containing seven puppies. An additional 13 dead animals, including the mother cat and her two kittens, were found in the van.

Additionally, the van contained a tackle box filled with syringes and vials of liquid substances. Ahoskie Police Detective Jeremy Roberts, the lead investigator on the case, sent the items to the SBI Crime Lab. There it was confirmed the vials contained Ketamine and Pentobarbital.

According to Roberts, both are Schedule III drugs, each regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and are only available for purchase by a licensed veterinarian.

Dr. Cheryl Powell of the Powellsville Pet Clinic said Ketamine is primarily used as aesthetic drug that is used to sedate animals. She said the Pentobarbital was the sedative given to animals to euthanize them.

The majority of the animals discovered on June 15 were collected the same day by Cook and Hinkle from the Bertie County Animal Shelter, as confirmed by Bertie Animal Control Officer Barry Anderson. An autopsy performed later on one of those dogs revealed the animal was in good health prior to its death.