400 rescued pets get foster homes

More than 400 dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals seized from a home in Lincoln County are in foster care until their owners are tried on cruelty charges.

Vicki Rauch, 40, her husband Michael Rauch, 47, and her son Brandon Olsen, 19, face numerous counts of felony cruelty to animals, authorities said. They are scheduled to appear in court today.

In a plan dubbed “Operation Noah's Ark,” authorities last week went to the family's home in Denver to confiscate the animals, some of which were malnourished and living in poor conditions.

The animals were temporarily being kept in a warehouse at the former R-Anell Homes plant on N.C. 16 in Denver.

After reaching out to volunteers and rescue groups, officials found foster homes for the majority of the animals, a statement released Sunday said. The rest are expected to be placed in temporary homes by mid-week.

Numerous agencies and volunteers have donated supplies, money and time to care for the animals, who must remain in foster care until the cruelty case is handled in court, officials said.

Anyone with questions should call the Lincoln County Animal Control or the Sheriff's Office at 704-736-8517 or send an e-mail: jkerley@lincolnsheriff.org. Victoria Cherrie

Regional briefs

Cumberland County


Bird-lovers around Lake Lynn are upset with one of their neighbors, a wildlife officer who got 16 Canada geese removed from the area near Fayetteville Regional Airport.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said all the lake's geese were removed and killed because they were a threat to aviation traffic. But an airport official said he was unaware of any goose problem in the subdivision and lake off Doc Bennett Road, just south of the airport.

The neighbor, state wildlife officer Randy Lee Smith, wouldn't discuss his role in the geese's disappearance. He referred questions to the USDA, saying “they're the ones that removed them,” said Smith.

Lt. Brenton Spivey, who works with Smith at the state Wildlife Resources Commission, confirmed that Smith called in the USDA.

Spivey said Smith did nothing wrong by summoning the USDA to get rid of the birds. Smith told his neighbors that the geese defecated in his lakefront yard and chewed up his lawn.

“There's no problem, as far as we see,” Spivey said. “He did the same thing that any other citizen could have done.”

But some are angry that the geese were taken.

“It really bothers me,” said goose fan Robin Varneau, who has lived near Lake Lynn for 14 years. “If you take all the birds out of the lake, you're living beside a mud hole. That's why we wanted to live here.”

Tim Barnett, president of the homeowners association, said about half of his neighbors liked the geese, and the other half despised them.The (Fayetteville) Observer

Wake County


Several closed-off blocks of downtown Raleigh offered fun and food during the Raleigh Wide Open III festival on Saturday. But the main attraction was happening inside.

The sparkling-new Raleigh Convention Center was open for the first time this weekend, and a steady stream of curious visitors came to see the facility.

On the lowest level, half of the 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall was taken up with the 23rd International Festival. Last year, it was held in Raleigh's Dorton Arena.

The other half of the room was given to dozens of trade show booths, and there was ample space for all. At the International Festival, a dozen food vendors were set up, each offering some specific cultural fare. Rows of tables were nearly full at midday with families munching on Polish placki pancakes, Filipino rice noodles and Nepalese potato achar. (Raleigh) News & Observer

Police digest

Wake County


An unidentified man was arrested by federal agents after he got into a fight with his brother aboard a JetBlue flight.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the fight on the Boston-to-Fort Lauderdale flight on Saturday forced the captain to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where the man was taken into custody.

Airport spokesman Don Atkinson said the airplane landed at RDU at about 5:40 p.m. The flight resumed at about 7:30 p.m.

While the second man was released, it was not known whether he reboarded the flight. RDU officials couldn't be reached Sunday for further comment. Associated Press