The CEO of a nonprofit animal rescue is facing animal cruelty charges after authorities found dozens of dead dogs and cats in her South Carolina home, authorities reported.
Caroline Dawn Pennington, the 47-year-old director of GROWL, a nonprofit organization, is charged with 30 counts of ill-treatment of animals, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies arrested Pennington on May 22 while performing a wellness check at her home with Richland County Animal Control, after a neighbor reported a “smell of death” emanating from the Columbia house.
Once they arrived, the department reported, deputies confirmed the smell, entered the home and discovered 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages and crates inside.
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The animals had been dead for a long time, according to investigators, and likely died from starvation and dehydration.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called the discovery appalling and heartbreaking, and said it was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had ever seen.
“This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes,” Lott said. “She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her.”
In addition to GROWL, Pennington was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society at the time of her arrest.
Pennington was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and released on a $75,000 surety bond, Sergeant Brittany Hart of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Anyone who has made documented donations to GROWL in the last 12 months is asked to contact the sheriffs department.
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