At least 30 decomposing carcasses of dogs and cats, found in crates and cages, were recovered from the home of an animal rescue director in South Carolina, after US officials received a call about a “smell of death” coming from the property.
Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47, chief executive and director of a nonprofit animal rescue company named GROWL, was arrested on Friday 3 June after turning herself in, said the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD).
Officials found 28 dogs and two cats dead in Pennington’s house. According to investigators and as stated by USA Today, “the animals had been dead for a long time and likely died from starvation and dehydration.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the discovery appalling and heartbreaking, and said it was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had ever seen. “This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes,” Lott said. “She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her.”
In addition to GROWL, Pennington was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society at the time of her arrest. She was also a well-known figure in the animal rescue community.
After turning herself in, Pennington was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and charged with 30 counts of ill treatment of animals. She has since been released on a $75,000 surety bond, Sergeant Brittany Hart of RCSD said Monday 6 June.
Anyone who has made documented donations to GROWL in the last 12 months is asked to contact the sheriff’s department.