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Charleston Animal Society deploys teams to assist in SC’s largest cruelty bust

Deputies say Kellett is also being charged with criminal conspiracy for his involvement in...
Deputies say Kellett is also being charged with criminal conspiracy for his involvement in cockfighting.
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 1:23 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston Animal Society says they deployed teams to assist the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office with the largest animal cruelty operation in South Carolina history.

Robert Milton Kellett III and Tina Messer Hurley were arrested without incident and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, receiving stolen goods, trafficking in meth, 19 counts of ill treatment of animals, torture, 1 count of ill treatment and overworking of animals, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies say Kellett is also being charged with criminal conspiracy for his involvement in cockfighting.

At least 400 animals were seized in the Laurens County cruelty case following an operation in Gray Court on July 16th.

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office says their Animal Control Division responded to Hope Road in Gray Court in order to check on the condition of some horses.

Animal Control deputies say they observed multiple malnourished horses without access to water or food. They say many 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 and rabbits, hens, and dogs were also observed to have no access to water, deputies said.

Many roosters were tethered to the ground by leashes and deputies say the roosters had no access to water. A large barrel containing multiple deceased chickens was discovered, dead chickens were allowed to decay on top of a cage and deputies say many items located on the premises led investigators to believe there was a cockfighting operation being conducted.

In total, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office says over 400 animals were found on this property, to include 12 horses, 30 dogs, approximately 356 chickens, 4 hogs, 3 piglets, and 8 rabbits.

“We went to assist in any way we could to bring as many animals to safety as possible,” Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore said. “We want to commend the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement involved who made animal safety a priority in this case.”

Dogs, horses and various farm animals that all needed help were seized by law enforcement and 23 dogs were transported to Charleston Animal Society for emergency medical care.

As part of its No Kill South Carolina 2024 initiative, Charleston Animal Society also transported 20 cats and kittens to the Massachusetts SPCA in Boston Wednesday. The society says many of these animals came from the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach that is currently over capacity.

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