Dozens of dead and cats were found lying in their own waste at the home of a well-known animal rescue community figure.
Police discovered the bodies of 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages inside the residence of Caroline Dawn Pennington, who is the CEO and director of the animal rescue nonprofit GROWL.
Investigators performed a check at her home in Columbia, South Carolina, on May 22, after a neighbor reported a ‘smell of death’. The scene was ‘appalling’ and ‘heartbreaking’, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
‘This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes,’ stated Lott. ‘She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her.’
Investigators believe the dogs and cats were neglected and left in the house for as many as nine months before dying inside the cages, said a sheriff’s department spokesperson, according to the .
The animals may have died of starvation and dehydration and were at a severe level of decomposition, lying in their own waste, the sheriff’s department stated.
Pennington, 47, who was also an employee of the Kershaw County Humane Society when the dead animals were found, was arrested on Friday. She has been charged with 30 counts of ill-treatment of animals.
The humane society said that Pennington is no longer employed with them.
‘We were unaware of the former employee’s actions and are truly shocked and heartbroken,’ stated the humane society. ‘Our dedicated staff will continue with our mission to serve the lost and homeless pets of Kershaw County.’
Pennington is also being investigated for possibly engaging in fraud in relation to GROWL, which is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. The sheriff’s department is asking to speak with people who have donated to the organization over the past year.
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