SC Cat Sanctuary Raided

There are new developments in a story I’ve been following here in SC.  PETA sent an undercover investigator to work 5 days a week for 6 months at an Horry Co cat sanctuary.  PETA then released a compilation video made during the undercover investigator’s time at the sanctuary and stated the cats were living “in squalor and consistent deprivation of everything that is natural to them”.  They wanted the county to bring cruelty charges against the sanctuary owner.

Prosecutors on the case countered that inspections made by ACOs which included a vet and an assistant prosecutor revealed no “unbelievable atrocities”.  In fact, the assistant prosecutor “said he personally looked at each of the more than 300 animals living in tiered crates inside the shelter and saw no evidence of abuse or neglect – or the filthy, cramped conditions PETA alleges”.

The owner had been charged with improper care of animals last September when PETA had approached authorities about the sanctuary.

After PETA went public with their video and allegations last month, a judge issued an order to seize the cats and Horry Co authorities removed 237 cats and 1 dog from the sanctuary owner this week.  The numbers break down as follows:

  • 107 cats killed
  • 101 cats being treated for medical problems by the county
  • 29 cats returned to the sanctuary owner
  • 1 dog returned to sanctuary owner

Regarding the 107 cats who were killed:

The county said the 107 cats euthanized by a licensed veterinarian was suffering from multiple medical conditions including severe infestation of herpes and ringworm, anal maggots, severe gum disease and missing teeth, tumors/lesions, multiple abdominal abscesses, seizures and cracked and bloody pads on their feet.

I am having trouble reconciling the assistant prosecutor, a vet, and some ACOs finding no evidence of neglect while personally examining 300 cats with the words “anal maggots”.  I can see perhaps missing gum disease on some cats and even possibly abscesses and bloody feet (although I wouldn’t think the vet performed a very thorough exam if these things were missed on most or all of the affected cats), but the idea that animal professionals specifically investigating claims of neglect and lack of medical care are going to miss anal maggots seems unlikely to me.  I didn’t see the abscesses or maggots in the PETA video either.

All this leaves me wondering where exactly the truth lies in this case.  On the one hand, this woman allegedly allowed cats in her care to suffer and literally rot in cages.  On the other hand, she is apparently a good enough owner to pass a vet inspection and get 31 pets back.  What do you think?

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22 Comments

  1. I believe all those involved who found no problems should be charged in conspiracy to cover up abuse and animal neglect. I believe the crime penalties should be much harder. But then again, look at those allowing the crimes of child abuse and rape to be treated basically with kid gloves in stead of either sending them to the death chamber or cutting off those parts which did the offending…. But then they take the Bible out of the court room. What can one expect?

    Reply
    • I’m glad you’re not in charge in my neighborhood! I believe that MY vet could examine each and every one of these cats and I would trust her judgment regarding the health and suffering of any specific animal.
      This is why most raided facilities have the animals killed! (It’s hard to justify killing 50% while returning 10% to the owner.) I think with 200+ cats, there are bound to be old and sickly animals. Many vets choose death way sooner than some owners. No Kill (in some people’s mind) means exactly that! They don’t kill ANYBODY. Which means that a *natural* death can take a long time and sometimes be quite ugly.
      I had a friend whose dog was diagnosed with cancer. Vet recommended euthanasia. They did it, THAT week! The dog could have lived happily for quite some time…but the owner said the vet said that the dog was “full of cancer” and should be killed.

      Reply
  2. Marji

     /  March 4, 2011

    You can miss anal maggots on a furry animal, true fact.

    An assistant prosecutor is not qualified to comment on the medical or body condition of an animal.

    I’ve had to health check hundreds of animals before – mainly chickens. I would like more information on what the aco, vet and prosecutor did pertaining to a health check – it’s really hard to screw up so badly that you miss abdominal abscesses…unless you didn’t actually do the health check properly. It generally takes 6 people 6-8 hours to health check 300 chickens, longer when they are especially fragile or frightened. And that involves capturing the animal, physically looking them over, looking inside mouth/ears, checking the anal area, legs, feet, body, etc. It’s no easy or short process. We also don’t face health risks if scratched or beaked by chickens, so I imagine with clawed/toothed cats it would take longer to properly health check. Unless shown otherwise, I call sketchy on the story that the 300 animals underwent an ACTUAL health check by the acos and vet.

    I think in large scale confiscations like this, at least three vets should lay hands on the animals and all should have a check-off sheet and notes section for each animal and each vet.

    Maggots are treatable. Abdominal abscesses are treatable. Some periodontal disease is treatable, dependent on how severe and widespread it is. Herpes virus is not treatable and is exacerbated by having a lot of animals in one area since it’s spreads easily – but it need not be a death sentence for otherwise healthy cats. Ringworm is treatable. Cracked/bloody pads are treatable. The only illnesses listed that might warrant humane euthanasia are seizures, tumors and severe abscesses. So I’m confused why cats with treatable medical conditions were killed. Unless I’m missing something?

    Her getting the cats back should not be indicative of a “good enough owner” by any stretch. There are myriad cases of clear neglect in which animals are returned to their previous owners- it’s often left up to the judge’s discretion or if the county doesn’t want to fight an owner who refuses to sign over animals (generally to avoid prosecution). It is, in my view, one symptom of a clearly broken system.

    Reply
    • Cathy

       /  March 16, 2011

      Thank You for saying everything I wanted to say. Everyone involved here acted inappropriately & atrociously. So many more of those cats could have been saved, if those people had acted sooner & more aggressively, and NONE OF THEM SHOULD HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO HER!!!!

      Reply
  3. Erica

     /  March 4, 2011

    To be 100% truthful…when I read PETA – I shut down and my first and foremost thought was – they just want to see all the cats dead. Period. Doesn’t matter is they are healthy, had a treatable condition, were old, etc….PETA kills animals – you know the same ones ‘they’ claim to want to help. We’ve all read the stories of them killing animals and dumping bodies in dumpsters. Stories of a raid where they move the animals to an undisclosed location – and after about the time it takes to kill, I mean euthanize, all the animals – they are out of there and onto the next spot.

    I absolutely HATE PETA. What bothers me the most is that this guy worked there for 6 MONTHS…that’s 6 months that IF this indeed is a abuse situation those cats could have received the care they needed and the majority would have been completely fine. I am so sick of PETA & HSUS spending months doing ‘undercover investigation work’ to collect enough evidence to try and condemn the person(s) they are investigating. The entire time they are allowing the abuse or problems to continue. The guy from PETA is guilty of abuse/neglect as surely as the owner of the sanctuary, if she is indeed guilty of it. Which, I find difficult considering they gave 29 cats & 1 dog back to her.

    Sounds more like a kill round up than anything else, at least to me.

    Reply
    • PETA was not in custody of the animals, nor are they the ones who killed the animals.

      Let me tell you a quick story. We got a call about starving goats. They were at death’s door. No food, no water, no shelter. Animal control initially refused to come out. Neighbors got fed up and bought food and water for the animals. When we called to encourage animal control to go out, they did (organizational clout for the win)what did they see? Food. Water. No goat confiscation. Nearly all the goats starved to death before the remaining were confiscated (they died later). Sometimes doing what is just at the time means injustice in the future, like for these goats. The same could be said of undercover investigators – trying to fix a cruel situation in the present may condemn future animals to more suffering. To blame the investigator is offensive, at best.

      And I’m not sure why you get to make a “sounds like” statement when you admit to shutting down over a name, “PETA”…unless seizures, untreated abdominal abscesses, untreated herpes and ringworm, untreated gum disease sound like a-okay treatment of animals (presumption that the vets treating the animals aren’t lying)? I’m just confused about your position when faced with all those medical conditions?

      Reply
      • Erica

         /  March 4, 2011

        Let’s see – PETA is all for killing animals – the fact that they were involved – in and of itself make me think that they are interested in nothing more than getting those cats killed. That’s their MO. While I KNOW they do not have custody of the animals and are not the ones who did the killing – they are still involved.

        MY problem with this is that there is a guy working undercover – he had 6 MONTHS where he could have done SOMETHING to help with those cats. So we should just say it’s a-ok that he just sat back and watched the whole time while the cats suffered with TREATABLE illnesses to the point that, obviously, they got worse and needed to be killed. No, I am NOT ok with cats suffering – and when you’re dealing with something that is treatable and you do nothing about it then you are just as guilty as the person who did it.

        Sorry to hear about the goats – but OBVIOUSLY this lady isn’t THAT bad – they gave her 29 cats & 1 dog back. I’m entitled to make any statement I choose – including a “sounds like” statement, especially over the fact that PETA is involved, the ‘abuse’ went on for 6 MONTHS, and there was previous inspection involved where the same things were not found. Maybe it was an error, maybe not. BUT – those cats had 6 months of time for the probelm(s) to get bad enough that they felt that killing them was the only option? AND all while under the ‘watchful’ eye of the PETA spy.

        That’s the problem I have with PETA & HSUS – when they do undercover work they sign waivers to report abuse – or they know that they ‘should’ report it but don’t. I don’t care if they were trying to compile a list a mile long to hit her with…to allow the cats to be sick and NOT do something about it makes him just as guilty in my book.

      • One thought that jumped into my mind was: If the guy was there for 6 months, couldn’t he have filmed some of the more egregious allegations (untreated abscesses, anal maggots)? Video evidence of those things would speak volumes. I wonder why he didn’t get video documentation of those conditions. If the video was allowed in court, I’m betting it would influence a jury and/or judge to see that.

      • Erica

         /  March 5, 2011

        So there is no video of what took place? That’s even worse because then it becomes a he-said/she-said. I mean, I KNOW that they have ‘evidence’ in the form of the animals now…but for someone to go ‘undercover’ and NOT video tape? Just doesn’t make sense. It was bad enough that he worked there for 6 months and allowed the cats health continue to decline, but even worse that he didn’t video tape anything. UGH!

  4. After reading several different articles, and looking over lots of different pictures, I think that these animals should have been seized, AND SAVED AND TREATED. PETA makes my blood boil, they are doing pretty much nothing right in my opinion. This lady was also doing the cats wrong, and very likely needs psych help. I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that way over half of the cats “euthed” could have been saved with some good care, and reasonable medical treatment.

    Reply
  5. whoever let these cats bact to this place should be up on charges 2 !! these is so rotten! how do u get anal maggots? i know u dont take care of them !! i dont think , they should be they should had have any thing wrong w/ them if you r a “good” shelter, they should be heathly 2 go 2 a good home !! why wld u send a animal that has something wrong w/ it 2 a home that has other animals that may catch it? then we have a bigger problem !!! put them all away 4 life !!!

    Reply
  6. Jack Carone

     /  March 4, 2011

    Maybe it took 6 months to get enough “good shots” to paint the desired picture, while the cats went downhill. I have seen drastic raids and killing which are later justified by descriptions of atrocities that never existed. Maggots are deposited and hatched where there is dead flesh, and surgically eat it away. I doubt that a majority of the cats had necrotic tissue, even if ill, and I would like to see that broken down into who had what problem. Killing for missing teeth would pretty much wipe out the human population. Even if PETA did not have custody, they may have influenced the killing, as those that did the killing may have been impressed by PETA, or intimidated feeling like they would also come under attack. So they went along, and made the evidence go away.

    Reply
  7. Susan

     /  March 4, 2011

    How can you work for six months amongst so much misery?

    That does not make a lot of sense to me period.

    Reply
  8. So sad that the truth is so hard to find in some of these cases. I have a hard time believing PETA, HSUS, or Animal Controls most of the time.

    And the poor animals — why are so many “rescued” animals killed.

    I also don’t understand how someone that hurt, killed, neglected, or abused some animals can be allowed to own any.

    There must have been other people in this area that noticed a problem with this place, how else did PETA get involved?

    Please consider checking out the animal sanctuaries/rescues/shelters in your area to make sure the animals are being cared for right.

    Reply
  9. Tonya

     /  March 5, 2011

    I have to agree-where does the truth lie here. I’m not a fan of PETA and don’t believe the cats or dogs would have lived if given to them, but even that some were returned in unimaginable. Again, the authorites fail, why can’t ACO’s be more accountable. When the Dept of Agriculture came to PAWS and said everything was fine with evidende to the contrary it makes you wonder why these people sign up for these jobs.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  March 5, 2011

      The fact that they returned any animals to her AFTER taking them and killing a good portion, and treating the others makes me wonder about the WHOLE situation. I have read so many stories about PETA (or even HSUS) hiring undercovers that actually *help* speed along problems, or in some cases actually create the problems (failure to medicate or properly care for the animals so that they look worse, or get sicker) just to push for removal of the animals. It makes me wonder if there isn’t a agenda with some of these animal rights groups to see all the animals dead…

      Reply
  10. Matt

     /  March 8, 2011

    Can somebody raid PeTA and check their freezers?

    You are sure to find so many victims, that even Jack The Ripper would cringe.

    Reply
  11. Matt

     /  March 8, 2011

    “The county said the 107 cats euthanized by a licensed veterinarian was suffering from multiple medical conditions including severe infestation of herpes and ringworm, anal maggots, severe gum disease and missing teeth, tumors/lesions, multiple abdominal abscesses, seizures and cracked and bloody pads on their feet.”

    None of which would result in the killing of humans suffering from the same symptoms. Yet again, Speciesism rears it’s butt ugly head.

    http://www.all-creatures.org/aip/nl-20090408-1.html

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  March 8, 2011

      You are correct in that all those ‘problems’ are treatable – sure some are going to take more time to fix, but I don’t know that any of the condition required them cats being killed. ANd, I also agree that if these were people that we are talking about the outcome would have been far different.

      I did enjoy the link you provided – although I am not someone who supports animal ‘rights’ I do believe that an animal has the right to life, but this doesn’t extend to those that have been bred and raised as a food source. I know that sounds somewhat hypocritical – since an animal is an animal. BUT – we have domesticated cats & dogs and they have been our companions for so long that I feel differently about a house pet vs. livestock. Yet, the article did point out a VERY important issue – the animal rights folk, while willing to stand at farms and protest against farming and raising livestock for food or at labs to protest the use of animals in laboratory studies, have no problem with our shelters killing healthy treatable animals. That is where the AR people ‘lose’ me….it isn’t ok to kill a cow to feed people but it’s ok to kill dogs & cats because that’s what’s always been done and since they ‘believe’ there is a pet overpopulation problem they obviously think that killing the surplus of animals is a-ok.

      Reply
  12. Kelley

     /  March 28, 2011

    What do I think? I think PETA and the shelter lied. More evidence for PETA of “no-kill equals hoarding”.

    Reply
  13. Michelle

     /  March 29, 2011

    I keep reading that a seizures is an acceptable reason to euthanize a cat…..absolutely wrong. I have a kitty who was used as a kitten as a “bait” animal for fighting dogs who was rescued and has seizures but are 98% controlled with medication. Seizures should not be a death sentence unless they are unable to be controlled. If uncontrolled eventually brain damage will result that will certainly impact on the life of the animal. Otherwise there is absolutely no reason to euthanize them.

    Reply
    • tiffany

       /  June 16, 2011

      maybe they had already incurred brain damage from the seizures being untreated while in the “shelter”

      Reply

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