A tip led Horry County deputies to uncover an unlawful dog breeding operation in Conway on Wednesday.
Officers removed more than 140 dogs of various breeds from the property and charged a 49-year-old Conway woman with failure to provide proper care and treatment of animals.
At about 9 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to the operation in the 6300 block of Highway 65 in Conway, according to a news release from Horry County deputies.
Deputies found and took possession of 146 dogs of different breeds and ages, due to the conditions they were being kept in.
“The animals were kept in small cages, and numerous animals were sharing cages which had not been cleaned in a very long time,” the release states.
When the responding officer arrived at the property, they noticed a building where the mother dogs and their puppies were being kept had an “overpowering smell of ammonia,” according to the police report.
There were about 50 dogs in this structure. In the backyard, there were multiple dog cages made of wood and metal, with wire sides and bottoms.
“The wire located in these cages was not sufficient for the dogs to walk on without falling through,” the report states.
The cages were about two feet off the ground, and underneath were piles of dog feces and urine. The report states that the number of dogs in each cage was inappropriate.
Renee James, the owner of the dogs, surrendered them voluntarily to the Horry County Animal Care Center, where they were given shots, medical exams, and were photographed and cataloged.
James was charged under Horry County Ordinance 4-3 for failure to provide proper care and treatment of animals, and is scheduled to appear in court later this month, Lt. Raul Denis said. According to documents provided by the Horry County Sheriff's Office, James received a traffic ticket for the charge, and was fined $445.
The dogs will not be ready for adoption from the HCACC until Tuesday. Debbie Saxon with the organization FRIENDS of HCACC explained the animals are going through processing.
While her group is separate from the shelter, the two work hand in hand to get animals adopted. Saxon said many of the dogs are older or pregnant.
While 146 dogs seems like a lot, Saxon believes HCACC sees a similar number of animals brought in every two days during the spring and summer months. She said the ‘live release' rate has nearly doubled over the last few years, meaning more animals are either adopted out or sent to rescues and foster homes.
The same may be true for the dogs brought in on Wednesday. Saxon explained some of them will be immediately ready for adoption, while others will need to be placed first in a foster home for socialization.