After a judge granted a search warrant, officials executed it at The Haven Friends for Life animal shelter in Hoke County.
Over 600 animals, including 300 dogs and 250 cats, were seized by authorities.
Linden and Stephen Spear, the owners of the shelter, face animal cruelty charges as well as possible felony for possession of a controlled substance, after investigators found a type of medication used to treat animals, reported WRAL.
“You’ve got animals out here with open wounds, obvious skin conditions. Animals that appear to be malnourished,” said Capt. John Kivett with the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office.
Animals were being kept in dirty cages, kennels, outdoor pens, and paddocks—many with no protection from the elements.
“We cannot and will not allow this type of mistreatment to continue any longer,” said Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin in a statement obtained by the Aberdeen Times.
The shelter was operating without a license for more than a decade.
The animals were taken to other shelters across the state, and as far away as Hawaii.
“This is one of the largest animal seizures the ASPCA has ever conducted in our 150 years as an organization,” Tim Rickey, senior vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response, said in a statement. “Our goal is to help them become healthy and ultimately find them homes.”