Charleston Animal Society helps rescue 30 dogs from largest animal cruelty case in state

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In one of the biggest animal cruelty cases in South Carolina, this week the Charleston Animal Society worked with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office to rescue 356 chickens, four hogs, three piglets, eight rabbits, 12 horses and 30 dogs. All were seized by law enforcement, and 23 dogs were transported to Charleston Animal Society for emergency medical care by the shelter’s veterinarians and animal care staff.

“It almost looked like a junkyard, but instead of just junk it was junk of animals just everywhere,” stated Aldwin Roman from the animal rescue organization.

Those involved in the rampant animal neglect are facing multiple charges. Three people have been charged with 20 counts of animal mistreatment. Robert Milton Kellett III, Tina Messer Hurley and Jeffery Justice Dale Williams face third-degree animal cruelty by torture and one charge of third-degree animal cruelty by overworking. Two of the suspects also face an additional charge for running a cockfighting operation.

Two others, Heidi Tenile Mathes and Jacky Dean Yopp Jr. face charges of distribution of meth.

On July 16, the Laurens County Animal Control arrived at a property on Hope Road in Gray Court to check on the condition of horses. According to a press release by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, authorities found hundreds of malnourished, neglected and dead animals on the property.

Authorities believe the property owners had been involved in cockfighting as roosters were found tethered to the ground.

The 23 dogs are now receiving care at the Charleston Animal Society and are expected to be available for adoption soon. The other animals have been taken into custody by other agencies.

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