The Aiken Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals agreed to take in 40 of more than 250 animals – 200-plus dogs, nine horses and more than 40 fowl – removed from a Johnston, S.C., home on Sept. 11. Only a few of them have been healthy enough to adopt so far. The rest are being spayed or neutered, treated for injuries and malnutrition, and being socialized.
Some of the animals, like Evette, might never have been touched by a human, said Gary Willoughby, the president and CEO of the Aiken SPCA. He said it showed in Evette’s effort to hide when approached.
“The shyer ones are a little bit harder to adopt,” he said. “Although, sometimes they pull on people’s heartstrings.”
Three of the animals from Edgefield County have already been adopted, Willoughby said. They have four more in the building now and hope to have the rest treated and ready for adoption in the next three months. The Aiken SPCA took two young mothers and their newborns, and one who is about to have a litter, so those puppies will need to be given their shots and cannot be adopted for eight weeks, he said.
Willoughby said his people found out about the Holmes Pond Road property owner, Callie Abel, and what might be happening at her property a few months ago. It was not Abel’s first puppy mill, Willoughby said; Abel was confronted by Aiken County law enforcement two or three years ago but just moved a county over.
“We took in some dachshunds from her then,” he said. “It wasn’t as big, but all she had to do was move over a county and start again.”
Abel was arrested on seven charges of cruelty to animals on Sept. 11. She pleaded guilty seven days later. The terms of her plea deal included her never having animals on the property again, except for three dogs and a parrot, which she said were house pets, according to Ashley Mauceri, the manager of cruelty response for the Humane Society of the U.S.
Mauceri said Abel has 30 days to clean up the property for an inspection before she can get her house pets. She must remove the cages and pens that held the other animals and pay to spay or neuter them. If she ever has more animals on that property, she must serve 30 days in jail. Mauceri said states vary in their animal cruelty laws.
“It is always our goal to put a prohibitive sanction on someone with a background in cruelty,” she said.