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Local animal advocate cleared of criminal charges

By Josh Bergeron 

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The highest-volume adopter at the Rowan County Animal Shelter will once again be able to rescue cats.

An Iredell County District Court Judge last week dismissed abandonment charges against Rowan resident Jennifer Frasier, who runs Purfect Purbaby Rescue. As a result, Rowan County Manager Aaron Church says Frasier will be able to adopt animals from the shelter. When Frasier was first charged, Church banned Frasier or her rescue group from adopting animals at the shelter.

For now, Church said, Fraiser will be able to adopt a limited number of animals. The Purfect Purbaby Rescue Adoption Center on South Main Street is now closed. State Animal Welfare Division records show the rescue as being closed. Church said Frasier won’t face a limit on adoptions if she reopens her adoption center and passes state inspections, which she passed twice in one month while open.

Frasier and her rescue in 2015 pulled a total of 931 animals from the Rowan County Animal Shelter. Although Frasier was focused on cats, her numbers represent 25 percent of all animals adopted from the shelter in 2015.

In December, Frasier was tied to the abandonment of more than a dozen cats near Statesville. Iredell County Animal Control charged Frasier with animal abandonment because some of the cats contained microchips in her name. When contacted in January about the charges, Frasier said she turned the cats over to another rescue without changing information on the microchips.

As evidence she was innocent, Frasier said she used paperwork that showed another rescue was responsible for the animals at the time of the abandonment

“We had all the paperwork, signed and dated, that verified that they were in someone else’s hands,” she said. “I hate that these kittens were abandoned, and I hate that it’s put a stain on all the good work we’ve done.”

Fraiser said the largest percentage of the cats she has adopted — about 75 percent — have been deemed feral or unsocial. Those cats go to farms and live in feral colonies, she said.

When asked, Frasier said she plans to continue adopting animals from the animal shelter if Rowan County will let her. Frasier said the now-dismissed criminal charges “were the only grounds” for Rowan County not allowing her to adopt cats. Frasier’s father Craig Gordon, who runs a rescue called Carolina Sanctuary, was also charged with animal abandonment during the incident. Court records show Gordon’s case as still pending.

Since Fraiser’s charges were first filed, Church has started talking about implementing limits for adopters at the shelter. He cites a Jan 13 review of the Rowan County Animal Shelter by the state’s Animal Welfare Section of the Department of Agriculture.

In the letter, Animal Welfare Director Patricia Norris recommends that foster care and rescue organizations submit written applications to “pull” animals, submit to site inspections and agree to various standards. One of the proposed standards recommended by Norris is a limit on the number of animals fostered by any one group.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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