CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Police seized nearly two hundred dogs in just one week after tips led them to two different homes and now many people say they want to see change.
Many people in the community say they were caught off guard to find out such horrible conditions and signs of animal abuse was lurking feet away from their front doorsteps. "It's kind of shocking to figure someone had animals completely inside like that and so many of them," Rachel Thomas said.
Rachel Thomas lives in the area and had no idea neighbor Eduardo Chaviano owned 37 dogs and was accused with violating an Horry County animal ordinance. However, the mysterious smell had other neighbors talking. "They had smelt odors coming from the house. I think they live near by. and they had said they've never seen the animals out," Thomas added.
Another neighbor said the smell was so bad, she worried there was a body in the home.
Police received this tip the day after busting a puppy mill, seizing nearly 200 dogs in just two days, and local animal advocate, Nora Battle, sees the reaction from the community. "There has been a lot of anger and a lot of outrage and I think that has to do with the fact they didn't realize it was happening in their own backyard," Battle said.
Battle notices there has been a lot of talk concerning the puppy mill which police say is tied to the sale of animals at Pet Safari Pet Store in Conway. "It's shocking that she still has dogs in her ownership. It's shocking that it's only a misdemeanor but these are things that the law enforcement can't change. These are things that the voters and the taxpayers change," Battle added.
Pet Safari store owner Renee James, the woman charged with animal cruelty for the puppy mill, told me off camera, she urges people to know the whole story before passing judgement, and pointed out all of her awards for Pet Safari, arguing that she couldn't be a different person at home when tending to the animals.
However, Battle says there is something people can do with the frustration they are feeling right now; call their local and state representatives. "Let them know that you would like to see stricter animal welfare laws and protections in the state of South Carolina," Battle said.
Battle says there are no laws right now that will completely stop people from hoarding animals or running puppy mills, and police can only intervene as much as the law allows them to.