South Carolina police have arrested the CEO and director of an animal rescue group after a total of 30 cats and dogs were found dead inside his home.

The arrest is said to have taken place as part of a ‘wellness check’ operation following a complaint that the property ‘smelled like death’.

The incident is being treated as an ironic case of animal cruelty since the arrested individual involved belongs to an organization that defends animal rights and welfare.

Additionally, the suspect is also believed to be a “well-known figure” in the animal rescue community.

The arrest adds to the list of growing cases of animal cruelty and animal abuse in South Carolina and the United States.

Governed by an existing animal law, related incidents are treated as a criminal offense in the United States, where a convicted individual can face hefty fines or jail time.

Welfare check arrest

(Photo: Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Friday, June 3 operation led to the arrest of Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47, head of the South Carolina-based nonprofit GROWL, according to a statement from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) in a press release, quoted by BNC News.

Officials said Pennington was charged with 30 counts related to animal abuse.

Among the dead animals, 28 dogs and two cats, were found in a state of decomposition stuck in cages and crates inside his house.

South Carolina police first conducted their wellness check at Pennington’s home in the state capital of Columbia on May 22.

The tip came from an undisclosed call, indicating that a foul odor was coming from the property.

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Initial investigation

During the initial investigation, RCSD believed the animals had died of dehydration and starvation.

The rotting animals were also seen lying in their own waste when officers entered the house.

The time of death for cats and dogs is uncertain.

However, investigators are said to have estimated they may be dead for “a significant length of time” and RCSD Sheriff Leon Lott called the unprecedented discovery one of the worst cases of extreme animal cruelty he has ever had. seen, as quoted by NBC News.

Animal trainer arrested

In a related animal cruelty case, Netflix’s “Tiger King” docuseries star Bhagavan Antle was arrested in South Carolina on June 3.

Also called Kevin Antle or Doc Antle, the 62-year-old American animal trainer was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last Friday afternoon.

He was then taken to Horry County Jail the same night, according to New York Daily News.

Antle was in the spotlight when the Netflix docuseries was released in 2019.

Doc Antle fans also got to learn more about the top animal trainer in the “Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story”, which also released in December 2021.

South Carolina has existing laws and ordinances related to the rights and welfare of dogs and cats in general, according to the Charleston Animal Societyan animal welfare organization based in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Related article: Arizona man charged with freezing nearly 200 animals in garage freezer

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