Horry County Police explain recent animal cruelty charges

Horry County Police explain recent animal cruelty charges

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Police responded to the second tip in a week leading them to another case of animal cruelty.

Between Wednesday's puppy mill bust, and Thursday night's hoarding bust, the number of mistreated animals at the Horry County Animal Care center is high, but police say it's likely the responsible owners will face just one count of animal cruelty.

"The state laws on animal cruelty are a little bit different, they call more for an intentional harm upon the animal," Lt. Denis explained.

The county does have an ordinance pertaining to the care and treatment of animals that specifically states the proper and mandatory conditions.

However, Lt. Denis says it leaves a good part of the decision up to the officer.

"It leaves a lot, in the officer's discretion. So that when we go there, we can look around and we can make a proper determination as to whether or not those animals are being cared for in the proper way," Lt. Denis said.

Police say they are familiar with Renee James, the woman charged with animal cruelty for Wednesday's puppy mill bust, but explain the first time was more of an assisting process and she wasn't being reprimanded.

"She was not ticketed or anything last time, she just voluntarily gave up her animals," Lt. Denis said, adding that she's paying more than just the fine this time.

"These animals are very expensive, so it's not like she's just walking away, scot-free, you know this is a major burden on and a major financial hit for her to give up all of her animals and everything.," Lt. Denis explained.

The woman still has animals in her pet store, Pet Safari in Conway, but Lt. Denis says the business is in the city of Conway's jurisdiction.

However officers will be present for James' court date.

"And our officers will be there to present our case, and they are obviously going to petition in court for some harsh circumstances as far as some sort of probation or something where we or someone can check up on her to make sure that she doesn't end up in this situation again whether it's intentional or not," Lt. Denis said.

Lt. Denis says it's the well-being of the animals they care about.

He says neither today's hoarding situation nor the puppy mill bust show any reason to believe these acts of cruelty were intentional, and unless they find new evidence, they will continue on with the charges as they are: misdemeanors.

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