30 dead dogs and cats found at home of South Carolina Animal Rescue CEO

The CEO of a nonprofit animal rescue organization in South Carolina was arrested when police found dozens of dead animals in her home while investigating a complaint about the “smell of death.”

Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47-year-old CEO and director of GROWL, was arrested on Friday and charged with 30 counts of animal abuse after officers discovered the bodies of 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages at her home.

Richland County investigators uncovered the revolting scene while conducting a wellness check at their home on May 22 after a neighbor reported a “smell of death” wafting from the Columbia residence.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the discovery was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he had ever seen.

abuse of animals
The animals were left in their cage for between seven and nine months.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department

“It’s horrific and it’s heartbreaking,” Lott said in a statement. “This is someone assigned by the community to take care of these animals and find them homes. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who depended on her.”

The animals likely died of starvation and dehydration, and are believed to have been dead for a considerable time due to the high rate of decomposition, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.

A spokesman for the department said investigators believe the dogs and cats were neglected and alone in the home for up to nine months, dying in their cages.

They were found in their own trash, police said.

Pennington is a well-known figure in the animal rescue community in Columbia, South Carolina.

In addition to being the director of the GROWL animal rescue service, she was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society at the time of the incident.

The organization said in a statement that it is no longer an employee.

“We were unaware of the former employee’s actions and are genuinely shocked and heartbroken,” the Kershaw County Humane Society said in a statement. “Our dedicated employees will continue our mission to help Kershaw County’s lost and homeless pets.”

Police are also investigating Pennington for possible fraud since GROWL is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is asking everyone who has donated to GROWL in the past year to get in touch. 30 dead dogs and cats found at home of South Carolina Animal Rescue CEO


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