A well-known animal rescuer in the community of Columbia, South Carolina has been charged with multiple counts of ill treatment of animals after deputies found 30 animals decomposing in her home.
WIS reports that 47-year-old Caroline “Dawn” Pennington was arrested after deputies with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department responded to a caller who told them there was “a smell of death” coming from the house.
When deputies entered the home, they found 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages and crates. It is believed the animals died from starvation and dehydration.
Sheriff Leon Lott said it was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he has ever seen.
“It’s appalling, and it’s heartbreaking,” Lott said. “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.”
Pennington ran her own nonprofit animal rescue called GROWL and also was employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society (KCHS).
Jamie Woodington, President of the Board of Directors for KCHS, said that Pennington resigned Thursday citing unspecified personal reasons. She also told WISTV that as far as the KCHS knows, Pennington’s charges do not involve any animals from KCHS, but they will work with law enforcement on this case.
“Everyone at KCHS is very distraught and appalled at the charges levied on Ms. Pennington,” Woodington added. “Our sole mission is to care for all the animals that come in our doors.”
Pennington has been charged with 30 counts of ill treatment of animals. Investigators are asking for anyone who made documented donations to GROWL in the last 12 months to contact the sheriff’s department.