HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Animal care workers made room for more than 120 dogs at the Horry County Animal Care Center after police removed the animals from a Conway residence Wednesday.
About 110-120 puppies were taken to the center, said Lt. Denis, public information officer.
Some of the animals had never been taken out of their cages, and many of the cages were covered in feces, he said.
The Horry County Police Department received a call Tuesday about many pets living in poor conditions. On Wednesday morning, the officers went to a home located on the 6300 block of Hwy 65 to check out the possible puppy mill-type situation, he said.
Police have opened an investigation; one person is being investigated at this time, said Denis. Authorities say they are familiar with the woman they believe is responsible, and it is not her first offense, so they knew exactly what they were dealing with. Police say the property owner was cooperative on scene but say they knew immediately that the dogs needed help.
"A large majority of them have never been out of the cages. The cages were filthy, a lot of them very deep in feces, and you know, lacking, food and exercise and proper care," Lt. Raul Denis said. As for the woman police believe is responsible, they say she could be charged for each animal.
"It's a misdemeanor mostly, obviously the judges will have discretion when they hear the case...but until that happens, we can't really say what will happen," Lt. Denis said. Police say they will release the charges and the woman's identity on Thursday and the charges will be animal cruelty.
The Operations Manager at the Horry County Animal Care Center, Kelly Bonome, says she's seen dogs seized from this woman in the past that were in much worse shape than the dogs she saw today.
"We're finding a few things but nothing life-threatening...nothing that is a...danger to the animal shelter, we don't think we see any serious diseases, or issues at this time," Bonome explained.
A majority of the dogs are believed to be pure bred. Breeds include Yorkshire Terriers, Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds. Bonome says this is because the dogs were intended to be sold in a pet store, and these are the pet store's believe people want.
Bonome described the dogs as small to medium sized breeds.
The center's veterinarian will still be check the dogs and even though she says it's always overwhelming to get so many animals at once, Bonome says they have preparedness plans for this kind of situation.
"We sat down, we orchestrated...who's going to do what, made those assignments, and just really worked right through it," Bonome said.
However, with a number so large, on top of what the care center already has, Bonome says euthanization may be a reality.
"That actually is a possibility. However these animals, we have a lot of rescue networks, that are, we are already getting a to of help pouring, um, so I really think that, that risk is pretty slim right now," Bonome said.
Animal care workers said some animals will be ready for adoption next week, after they are spayed and neutered.
The HCACC issued a wish list, including: collars, leashes, Pedigree dog food, pet treats and more.
At around 8 p.m. Wednesday, the HCACC posted the following to its Facebook page:
Thanks so much for the outpouring of help and requests for information. We did receive over 120 small breed animals this afternoon from a puppy mill. Today, they received a distemper/parvo vaccine, deworming and a brief exam. We are happy to say that there doesn't appear to be any life-threatening issues. Tomorrow we will start with addressing any medical issues and bathing, grooming. It is wonderful to see all the interest and offers of help. We greatly appreciate it. The Police did an excellent job getting them to us and our team did an AWESOME JOB with the initial evaluations and documentation. They truly are professionals. During the next couple of days, we will continue to get these pups ready for adoption. Next week we hope to be adopting a lot of wonderful small breed animals.