Aynor, SC - HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The discovery of mistreated animals at a July 3 fire has led Horry County Police to arrest two people Friday in connection to an ill treatment of animals investigation in Aynor.
Horry County Police were called to an address on Fore Road to assist Horry County Fire Rescue with a number of animals discovered at the scene of a house fire. The animals on the property, according to police, stood in the way of efforts to properly extinguish the fire.
Officers found a number of dogs on the property inside of poorly-kept pens, in addition to penned-up dogs inside of the residence.
A search warrant executed at the residence on July 6 led to the seizure of 46 dogs of various breeds and nine birds from the home. The animals, according to department spokesman Sgt. Robert Kegler, were taken to the Horry County Animal Care Center for examination by veterinarians.
Kelly Bonome, administrator for the Horry County Animal Care Center, said all 46 dogs will remain at the facility until they are transferred to a recovery center in upcoming days.
"They went out and got a search warrant and notified us of how many animals they had coming in and we made room and took care of them," Bonome said. "We've evaluated the animals and they have a variety of skin conditions most are heart worm positive."
Following the seizure of the pets, warrants were issued for the homeowner and a family member who had five dogs on the property.
Linda M. Cornelius, 55, and Michael Ovell Fore, 22, both of Aynor, turned themselves into authorities at the Horry County Magistrates Office.
Cornelius has been charged with three counts of ill treatment of animals, while Fore faces a single ill treatment of animals charge. Both have agreed not to attempt to reclaim the animals involved in the investigation.
Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said the animals were taken to Horry County Animal Care Center, where staff is working to have the animals placed. Bourcier said all of the small dogs, regardless of the medical conditions, are being transported Tuesday to be given to a rescue group who is coordinating with other groups in other states to provide care, treatment and adoptions.
Bourcier said staff from both organizations will meet to transfer the majority of the animals to the rescue group. Another five to 10 heartworm-positive animals will be dropped off in Lugoff, SC, at the Heartworm Project.