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Puppy Mill Raided, Owner Arrested
web posted September 11 2012 4:00 pm UPDATED 7:05 pm
JOHNSTON – The Edgefield County
Office conducted a raid Tuesday morning at a puppy mill located at 200
Holmes Pond Road just outside Johnston and took the owner, Callie Abel,
into custody on seven counts of ill treatment of animals. More charges
are likely, Sheriff Adell Dobey said. "This is an ongoing
investigation," he said. Aiding in the raid was the Humane Society of
the United States (HSUS) out of Washington DC who came with Animal
Rescue trailers and
dozens of volunteers, staff, and veterinarians. Nearly 300 animals were
being seized including nine horses.
After the scene was cleared by the Sheriff's Office around 8:30 am, the
HSUS took over the logistics of inspecting each animal and
tracking where each was taken and logged in before being placed in new
kennels for transport to a holding facility in Columbia. From there
each will be given full medical examinations to determine which dogs
can be saved.
During a quick briefing, one of the team leaders said the group has
done raids across the country, "and this is one of the largest raids
I've ever been involved with, if not the largest."
Left: Sheriff Dobey and HSUSA workers
examine a pile of burned bones.
total number of animals was
estimated at over 200 dogs, dozens of fowl (ducks, geese, chickens) and
nine horses. There were additional
dogs in the home and others running loose on the property. The number
littering the property were claimed to be deer bones, however; Kim
Kelly stated that one of the vets said they were from "small animals".
Trying to assertain how many animals would be pure speculation Kelly
Sheriff Dobey said his office had been receiving complaints about the
owner and Animal Control has inspected the property previously, the
last time believed to be in 2009, but
conditions were within the law. The ony recent complaints were about
noise, not ill treatment of animals Inv. Doran said. That obviously
changed over time and
after an undercover investigation brought probable cause warrants were
issued and the raid went into the planning stage.
There were kennels on the ground,
above the ground, fenced in areas,
and the ground was littered with bones. There were two piles of what
appeared to be ashes with more bones than ashes. Atop some of the
kennels were spinal columns with ribs and rotting portions of the
carcass still attached.
Water bowls, often times small children's pools, contained green water
and others were muddy. Though a majority of the dogs appeared to be
well fed, they were dirty and many had matted hair. Others were
obviously underfed and appeared ill.
Investigators on the scene said the inside of the home the couple lived
in was even worse. There were an unknown number of dogs in the house,
some in kennels, and feces around the house. Trash was piled all around
with only a narrow path to make their way around in the house.
In addition to the seven arrest
warrants, a search warrant was also
executed seizing a computer, paperwork, records, and other evidence.
Chief Investigator Randy Doran said Abel was selling most of the
animals over the internet.
"We're still working on it (the investigation) and we're going to file
for more warrants," Inv. Doran said Tuesday night
Kim Kelly, State Director for the HSUS, said they have
been working with the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office since mid July.
They aided in the investigation by having associates obtain dogs from
Abel that were later found to have a list of medical conditions ranging
from skin infections, ear and eye ailments, and disease. That
information led to the seven arrest warrants.
Sheriff Dobey said that it would have been nearly impossible for them
to conduct the raid without the help of the Humane Society. "They have
been a tremendous help," he said adding that all the records of the
examinations conducted by the Humane Society will be turned over to
investigators and used as evidence in the case.
Below: Sheriff Dobey speaks to Ashley Mauceri
Sate Sen. Jake Knox, who has pushed
for stricter animal cruelty
legislation, arrived on the scene as did Edgefield County Councilman
Rodney Ashcraft. Both were horrified of what they saw.
Councilman Ashcraft said that he is willing to propose an ordinance for
dog breeders in Edgefield County as a result of his visit. Ashcraft
said he would make sure it
did not impose any regulations on citizens who have a pair of dogs and
sells the puppies. But those in the business of breeding dogs or cats
on a large scale, "They need to be held to a higher standard," Ashcraft
Edgefield County media were tipped to
the impending raid by Sheriff
Dobey and we were allowed access to the property once it was secured.
Neither words nor pictures can do justice to the sights and smells of
the operation. It was sickening.
According to jail officials, Abel was released on personal recognizance
bonds Tuesday afternoon.
Above: One of the rotting carcasses found located on top of some of the
Video footage and photo coverage taken by the HSUS will be
linked when it becomes available.
See more photos taken by Edgefield
Daily on the scene here.
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Edgefield Daily and/or parent company ECL and
cannot be reproduced,
redistributed without expressed written permission.
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