At least 30 decomposing carcasses of dogs and cats in crates and cages were recovered from the home of an animal rescue director in South Carolina after officials received a call about a “smell of death”.
Caroline “Dawn” Pennington, 47, chief executive and director of a nonprofit animal rescue company named GROWL, was nicked on Friday after turning herself in, said the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheriff’s department said officers had responded to a welfare check at a home on 22 May on Dibble Lane in South Carolina’s Columbia city after a call said there was a “smell of death” coming from it, reported WSPA.
Officials found 28 dogs and two cats dead in cages and crates in the house.
Investigators said the animals appeared to have died of starvation and dehydration a while ago. Some of the animals were lying in their own waste.
The animals were removed from the house by the sheriff’s department as well as Richland County Animal Control.
Authorities said in addition to GROWL, Ms Pennington was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said this was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had witnessed.
“It’s appalling and it’s heartbreaking,” he was quoted as saying by ABC Columbia.
“This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her.”
Authorities said Ms Pennington was a well-known figure in the animal rescue community.
She has been booked at the Alvin S Glenn Detention Center and charged with 30 counts of ill treatment of animals.
Authorities at the sheriff’s department also said that while GROWL is a nonprofit, those who made donations to it last year are requested to contact the sheriff’s office.