Animal RESCUE CEO arrested after 28 dogs, 2 cats found dead in her home in 'worst case of animal cruelty'

Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County described the discovery as 'one of the worst cases of animal cruelty' he has ever seen


                            Animal RESCUE CEO arrested after 28 dogs, 2 cats found dead in her home in 'worst case of animal cruelty'
Caroline Dawn Pennington was arrested for animal cruelty (Credits: Richland County Sheriff's Office)
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RICHLAND COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Police have discovered dozens of dead animals during an investigation into a complaint about a "smell of death" inside the home of the CEO of a South Carolina animal rescue organization. Investigators discovered the remains of 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages inside Caroline Dawn Pennington's home on May 22. She was arrested on Friday, June 3, and charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty.

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Neighbors complained about a "smell of death" emanating from the Columbia residence. Richland County authorities discovered the sickening scene while executing a wellness check at Pennington's home on May 22. Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County described the discovery as "one of the worst cases of animal cruelty" he has ever seen.

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In a statement, Lott said, "It's appalling and it's heartbreaking. 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." The animals perished from malnutrition and dehydration, and the high degree of decomposition suggests they had been dead for a long period, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

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Investigators believe the dogs and cats were neglected and left alone in the house for up to nine months before dying within their cages, according to a department representative. They were discovered covered in their own filth, police reported.

Pennington is a well-known personality within the animal rescue community in Columbia, South Carolina. She was also employed at the Kershaw County Humane Society at the time of the incident, in addition to being the director of the animal rescue GROWL. In a statement, the company stated that she is no longer employed with them.

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Kershaw County Humane Society said in a statement, "We were unaware of the former employee's actions and are truly shocked and heartbroken. Our dedicated staff will continue with our mission to serve the lost and homeless pets of Kershaw County."

GROWL is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and Pennington is also being investigated for suspected fraud during her association with it. Anyone who donated to GROWL in the last year has been asked to call the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
 

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