Suspected puppy mill raided in South Carolina

Approximately 250 animals were seized Tuesday from a suspected puppy mill in Johnston, S.C., a small town in Edgefield County.

One of the dogs gets treated by a member of the Humane Society of the United States (Photo credit: HSUS)

The Humane Society of the United States brought in their Animal Rescue Team, volunteers, and veterinarians to help with Tuesday’s rescue efforts. The HSUS joined the Humane Society of Charlotte and the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office in removing 200 dogs, 40 birds, including ducks, geese, and chickens, and nine horses — all of whom had been living in appalling conditions.

The dogs, including Maltese, Boxers, and Golden Retrievers, were found to have skin and eye infections, untreated injuries, and dental problems, among other ailments. Many of the animals were living without much food and water so contaminated with bacteria it had turned green. As the rescuers walked through, it was clear that the animals were under-socialized. Some of the nursing mother dogs were kept in filthy rabbit hutches, covered in their own feces.

Also spotted on the property during the raid were piles of bones. HSUS South Carolina State Director Kim Kelly told The Edgefield Daily that, though Abel claimed that the bones were from deer, the bones appeared to be from “small animals.” It has not yet been determined if the bones were dog remains. Some of the bones were covered in ash, indicating that perhaps other remains had been burned. Investigators found animal skeletons, complete with spinal columns and ribs, on top of several of the dog kennels.

“The laws in South Carolina need to change in order to stop this kind of cruelty,” State Senator Jake Knotts (R) said after visiting the suspected puppy mill. “We need to attack this problem by requiring that anyone selling animals be licensed and inspected by the state.

“If elected officials could witness what I did today, there would be no problem passing a state law addressing this,” Knotts added.

The owner of the property and suspected puppy mill, Callie Abel, 54, has been taken into custody and charged with seven counts of ill treatment of animals. WJBF News Channel 6 reports that more charges against Abel are likely.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” Sheriff Adell Dobey said, who vowed to get to the bottom of the situation and do right by the animals. Dobey explained that his office had collected a number of complaints from concerned neighbors worried about the state of the animals on Abel’s property. An undercover investigation got Dobey the probable cause he needed to take action and coordinate the raid with HSUS.

It has been revealed that Abel sells puppies over the Internet site under the name Calabel’s Designer Dogs, according to GlobalAnimal.com. A computer, stacks of paperwork, and other unspecified evidence have been removed from the Abel home to facilitate further investigation.

For the time being, the rescued animals are being cared for in an emergency shelter near the capitol city of Columbia.

“We’re hoping that in this facility where they’re being taken care of right now, we’re setting them on the road to a better life,” a volunteer said.

Sources: GlobalAnimal.org, WJBF News Channel 6, HumaneSociety.org, EdgefieldDaily.com