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

The CEO of a South Carolina animal rescue nonprofit was arrested when police found dozens of dead animals inside 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 rotting in cages inside his house.

Richland County investigators discovered the shocking scene during a wellness check at her home on May 22 after a neighbor reported a “smell of death” emanating 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.

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

“It’s appalling and heartbreaking,” 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.

The animals likely died of starvation and dehydration and would have been long dead due to the large amount of decomposition, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.

A department spokesperson said investigators believe the dogs and cats were neglected and home alone for nine months and died in their cages.

They were found lying 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 GROWL Animal Rescue, she was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society at the time of the incident.

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

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

Police are also investigating Pennington for possible fraud as GROWL is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone who has donated to GROWL in the past year to contact them.

New York Post

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