AHOSKIE, N.C. – Two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search) have been charged with animal cruelty after dumping dead dogs and cats in a shopping center garbage bin, police said.
Investigators staked out the bin after discovering that dead animals had been dumped there every Wednesday for the past four weeks, Ahoskie police said in a prepared statement Thursday.
PETA has scheduled a news conference for Friday in Norfolk, Va., where the group is based.
Police found 18 dead animals in the bin and 13 more in a van registered to PETA. The animals were from animal shelters in Northampton and Bertie counties, police said.
The two were picking up animals to be brought back to PETA headquarters for euthanization, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk (search) said Thursday. Neither police nor PETA offered any theory on why the animals might have been dumped.
Police charged Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, Va., each with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals. They were released on bond and an initial court date was set for Friday.
Hinkle has been suspended, but Cook continues to work for PETA, Newkirk said.
Newkirk said she doubted Hinkle had ever been cruel to an animal and said if the animals were placed in the bin, "We will be appalled."