Animal rescue

30 dogs and cats found dead at Animal Rescue CEO’s home

Caroline Dawn Pennington (Richland County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities in South Carolina said they arrested the CEO of a local animal rescue organization after finding several dead dogs and cats inside his home.

Richland County deputies said Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47, was arrested after turning herself in this month. She is charged with thirty counts of animal abuse.

Investigators said May 22 they responded to a welfare check at his home in Columbia after a caller said there was a “smell of death” emanating from his residence.

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Once the deputies arrived, they found 28 dogs and two cats decomposing and placed in cages and crates. They think the animals are long dead and died of dehydration and starvation.

“They were lying in their own waste and are believed to have died in the cages and had not been moved until discovered,” authorities said in a statement to FOX television stations.

The deputies removed the animals.

“It is appalling and heartbreaking,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a statement. “She was someone who was tasked by the community to care for these animals and find homes for them. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of those innocent animals who relied on her.”

Lott called it one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had ever seen.

Pennington is the CEO and director of a non-profit animal rescue organization named GROWL. Authorities said she was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society.

GROWL is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Investigators are asking anyone who has made documented donations to GROWL in the past 12 months to contact the sheriff’s office.

Pennington was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.