NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston Animal Society assisted authorities in one of the largest animal cruelty recovery operations in South Carolina history.
Animal Control deputies with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office were checking on horses at a property in Gray Court when they observed multiple malnourished horses without access to water or food.
Deputies say many of them had severely overgrown hooves and their teeth were in poor condition.
“There were hogs on the property that were underweight with no water or food present. Rabbits, hens, and dogs were also observed to have no access to water,” deputies said. “Many roosters were tethered to the ground by leashes with no access to water.”
They said a large barrel that had several dead chickens was discovered, along with dead chickens decaying on top of a cage.
More than 400 animals were found on the property, including 12 horses, 30 dogs, approximately 356 chickens, 4 hogs, 3 piglets, and 8 rabbits.
23 of the dogs were taken back to the Charleston Animal Society for emergency medical care by the shelter’s veterinarians and animal care staff.
“We went to assist in any way we could to bring as many animals to safety as possible,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore, CAWA. “We want to commend the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement involved who made animal safety a priority in this case.”
Additionally, authorities said many items that were found on the property led investigators to believe there was a cockfighting operation being conducted.
Robert Milton Kellett III and Tina Messer Hurley, both of the home, were arrested without incident and charged with the following:
– Possession of a Stolen Vehicle (Vehicle stolen out of Simpsonville located on scene)
– Receiving Stolen Goods (License plate stolen out of Spartanburg located on scene)
– Trafficking in Meth
– 19 counts of Ill-Treatment of Animals, Torture
– 1 count of Ill-Treatment of Animals, Overworking
Kellett is also being charged with Criminal Conspiracy for his involvement in Cockfighting.
Jeffery Justice Dale Williams, of the home, is currently in the custody of Spartanburg County and will be charged with:
-19 counts of Ill-Treatment of Animals, Torture
-1 county of Ill-Treatment of Animals, Overworking
Heidi Tenille Mathes and Jacky Dean Yopp Jr. of Enoree were arrested and both charged with Distribution of Meth.