Animal rescue

RCSD: Local animal rescue manager arrested after home welfare check finds 30 decomposing animals

Caroline Dawn Pennington
Image: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) – Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says a woman who works as a local animal rescue director is charged with 30 counts of animal abuse. MPs say the charges against Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47, come after a welfare check at a home found 30 animals rotting in cages and crates.

Deputies say Pennington, CEO and director of GROWL, an animal rescue nonprofit, surrendered on Friday.

On May 22, MPs said they had responded to a welfare check that was being carried out at a house in Dibble Lane after a caller said there was a ‘smell of death’ coming from it. Deputies who responded said they found 28 dogs and two cats dead in cages and crates, and investigators said they appeared to have died of starvation and dehydration. Authorities say the animals found were dead, some lying in their own waste.

Sheriff Lott says it’s one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he’s seen.

“It’s appalling and heartbreaking,” Sheriff Lott said. “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.

Investigators say Pennington, who was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society, is a well-known figure in the animal rescue community.

She was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, charged with 30 counts of animal abuse.