Former Craig cafe owner arrested on dog charges in Tennessee
NEW CASTLE – Craig County people who know Bonnie Sheehan believe it was her big heart for animals and love of finding homes for dogs, in particular, that got her into trouble with the law.
Sheehan also had big goals for a cafe and coffee shop for Friday night music in downtown New Castle in 2007. The Keltic Café closed after less than a year at 322 Main St.
According to Tennessee court records, Sheehan was arrested on Jan. 17 in that state on more-than 120 counts of animal cruelty. Court records say a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer stopped a U-Haul driven by Sheehan that was pulling a mini-van with 127 dogs and a cat inside the two vehicles.
Tennessee law enforcement authorities said Sheehan was driving from California to Roanoke. The latter is on arrest records as the city where Sheehan, formerly from California, lives.
Sheehan is listed as the founder of Hearts for hounds, a non-profit “dog rescue organization,” according to the organization’s statements on various websites.
When she ran the businesses in New Castle, Sheehan’s coffee shop two doors away on Main Street from the Keltic Café had a section in the back with products for pets, New Castle people recall, including handmade dog treats and knitted pet sweaters.
Other volunteers with various animal rescue organizations in the Roanoke Valley said they were unfamiliar with Sheehan or her organization, Hearts for Hounds, before her arrest made headlines.
Hearts for Hounds listed more than 50 dogs for adoption on the website Petfinder last week.
“Bonnie was a dog lover, no doubt about it,” said New Castle resident Gwen Johnson who used to go to Sheehan’s cafe and coffee shop, and wrote articles about their opening for The New Castle Record.
“I think her heart was in the right place when she tried bringing all those dogs back to here to Roanoke. I just don’t know what she was thinking when she tried to transport them under such conditions. I think she desperately thought everything would be alright if she could only get them to Roanoke,” Johnson said, after reading news accounts.
According to Tennessee law enforcement authorities, in the vehicle Sheehan was driving and towing some of the dogs were in cages but most were loose, and there was no evidence of sufficient food and water for them.