400 SC animals rescued from deplorable conditions in 2022

166 dogs were seized from what law enforcement called a puppy mill in Pickens County

166 dogs were seized from what law enforcement called a puppy mill in Pickens County


Last week, law enforcement seized more than 80 neglected dogs at two unrelated South Carolina locations and charged the owners with animal abuse.

Add these to the 300 others found in cages and homes and on the loose so far this year, many of whom are close to death. No food, no water, covered in excrement. Nearly 40 animals of all types were already dead by the time rescuers arrived.

“It certainly looks like a growing problem, but it may be that these situations are being reported now or law enforcement may be more aware of them,” said Aldwin Roman, vice president of operations and strategy at Charleston. Animal Society, which often responds to seizures no matter where they are in the state.

In Spartanburg County on Wednesday, officers from the county’s Environmental Law Enforcement Department found 58 dogs and referred 41 to Greenville County Animal Care. The remaining 17 were in good shape and in a fenced area, but resident Joevaughn Meredith, 35, faces 12 animal abuse charges.

On Monday, 42 dogs that looked like Labrador retrievers were seized in Laurens County from a property littered with sheds, broken fences and full trash bags.

The first thing deputies saw was a nearly hairless female dog with sores on her body and her puppies in a pen, the sheriff’s office said. Other dogs in wire crates were covered in feces and had no food or water.

Some dogs were dead.

“These disgusting incidents are far too common,” Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds said in a news release. “People live this way, doing terrible things to helpless animals while creating health risks around them.”

Joyce Elaine Bynum and Robert Franklin Harrison have been arrested, both charged with three felony counts of animal abuse, torture and nine counts of animal abuse.

Roman said Laurens County is a good example of “tackling these cases head-on.”

Last year, Laurens County saw two major rescues, more than 400 animals in July and 270 in February. The seizure of 400 animals was one of the largest in state history and involved a range of animals – horses, dogs, pigs and chickens.

Officers attended the Gray Court property on July 16, 2021, after someone reported horse abuse. They found underweight horses, pigs, rabbits, chickens and roosters without water or food. The horses’ hooves were overgrown and their teeth were in poor condition.

Dead chickens were found in a barrel and rotting on top of a cage.

Authorities said they found 12 horses, 30 dogs, four pigs, three piglets, eight rabbits and around 356 chickens.

Residents Robert Milton Kellett III and Tina Messer Hurley have been charged with 19 counts of animal torture, one count of overworked animals, trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a stolen vehicle in Simpsonville and receipt of a stolen license plate in Spartanburg.

Kellett was charged with criminal conspiracy for cockfighting.

All charges are still pending.

In February 2021, officers in Laurens County, tipped off by a disgruntled buyer whose puppy was sick, seized 270 animals from a puppy mill. They found 145 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, 107 chickens, 10 ducks, eight rabbits and two cats on the property which included various sheds and garages.

The dogs were in small crates stacked in “horrible” conditions, officers said at the time.

Reynolds said at a press conference after the seizure, “We’re just not going to tolerate it.”

In November 2021, 85 dogs were seized inside a Laurens County home described as being in disarray with an overwhelming smell of feces., “Many hiding inside furniture, walls and cabinets”. Two puppies were found dead.

Roman said the situation is particularly bad when owners are involved with animal rescue organizations, as has happened in recent years.

In Richland County in June this year, 28 dogs and two dead cats were found decomposed at the home of Caroline Dawn Pennington, CEO of a non-profit animal rescue organization called GROWL, who has also worked with the Kershaw County Humane Society.

The animals had been dead for some time.

Officers were called by neighbors because of the smell.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a statement, “He is someone who has been tasked by the community to care for these animals and find homes for them. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of those innocent animals who relied on her.

Pennington faces 30 animal cruelty charges.

Roman said South Carolina doesn’t have strict animal cruelty laws, but many rescues have stepped up to train their own staff and law enforcement.

The Charleston Animal Society has used a Colorado organization, Code 3 Associates, for the past four years for disaster response training.

“These large-scale cases are difficult,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”

The Charleston Animal Society also serves as the county’s animal shelter, welcoming strays and unwanted animals.

Seizures this year include 46 dogs in Horry County, 37 dogs and cats from a hoarding case in Cherokee County and 150 dogs from a puppy mill in Pickens County. Three cases have been reported in Charleston County, six dogs and four dogs dead, eight dogs from a home and 57 dogs from a rescue.

Other animals seized this year were 38 horses, several cats and dogs in Spartanburg County, 54 cats from a home that housed a rescue organization in Chester County and 49 cats from a hoarding situation in Chester County. Colleton.

Roman said it’s rare, but sometimes rescued animals are too sick or injured that they can’t be saved. They also encountered animals that lacked social development and were dangerous.

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