BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Deputies arrested four people in connection with an animal abuse case involving 66 Chinese Shar-Pei dogs rescued from a Summerville home in February.
Tracy Lamere, 45; John Barnett, 45; Michael Lauer, 63; and Susan Lauer, 69; are each charged with 21 counts of Ill Treatment of an Animal, according to Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mulé.
Each count is a felony punishable by 180 days to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 upon conviction, Mulé said.
Detectives met with three veterinarians to review each animal's case to determine which injuries and diseases were the result of neglect and inbreeding and which were the result of natural illnesses.
Officials with the Berkeley County Animal Shelter said at the time they took in the dogs they all lacked basic veterinary care, and a large number were suffering from inherited traits that result in hearing loss and blindness when left unchecked.
Investigators say the home on Old Dairy Road from which the dogs had been rescued had been operating as a makeshift kennel.
Berkeley County Animal Control and the Doc Williams SPCA also assisted deputies in the investigation. The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office began investigating the case on March 10.