Charleston Animal Society’s Disaster Response Team was called into action Tuesday to assist the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in the rescue of 85 dogs trapped in horrible living conditions. Two dogs were found dead.
“It was a heartbreaking scene,” said Charleston Animal Society Emergency Response and Preparedness Manager Bryant Taylor. “Conditions were so difficult, due to the smell of urine and feces, that we could only rescue a few dogs at a time. Many had hidden inside the walls they were so frightened.”
The Laurens County Sheriff’s office says the home where the dogs were found was overrun with urine and feces, calling the conditions “despicable.” The majority of dogs were chihuahuas. 13 were brought back to Charleston Animal Society for lifesaving medical care and adoption.
“The dogs we are seeing are covered in fleas, causing skin irritation and their nails are in bad shape,” said Charleston Animal Society Chief Veterinary Officer Lucy Fuller, DVM. “They are currently with foster families until they receive medical clearance to be adopted.”
Rescuers initially thought they would be rescuing a dozen or so animals, but that number ballooned to 85 after dogs were found hiding in furniture and the walls. Deputies were also alerted to a second home owned by the same people, where an additional 20 dogs were found living in similarly poor conditions.
“We had to wear hazmat gear because conditions were so bad,” said Taylor.
The sheriff’s office says no food was accessible to the dogs and the water was not clean. Two deceased puppies were located and other puppies were found in very poor condition, with their eyes matted closed.
Authorities say Allen Earl Bridwell Jr. and Kimberly Hockenberry Bridwell, both of Laurens, face multiple cruelty-related charges.
“If not for Charleston Animal Society and Anderson Paws, we couldn’t have assisted these animals at the level necessary to take them out of such terrible conditions,” said Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds.
Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, a national nonprofit that champions causes that alleviate the suffering of animals, released the following statement regarding this case:
“We applaud the Laurens County Sheriff’s Dept., the Charleston Humane Society, and Anderson County PAWS for their work in bringing the accused to justice and for stepping up to rescue dozens of animals found in unsanitary and terribly inhumane living conditions.
“We hope the accused will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and call on the rest of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation to join Rep. Nancy Mace in supporting the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act that would help stamp out animal cruelty in the Palmetto State and across the U.S. This isn’t Ancient 1921, it’s 2021 and no civilized society should tolerate this form of cruelty.”
Animal Wellness Action is currently working to pass the federal Animal Cruelty Enforcement (ACE) Act that would establish an Animal Cruelty Crimes Unit at the Dept. of Justice to better enforce existing anti-cruelty laws on the books. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Charleston, is a cosponsor of the legislation, and is the sole member of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation that’s supported it.
To donate to the Charleston Animal Society, go to CharlestonAnimalSociety.org.
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