WARE SHOALS — The conditions were “horrific” Wednesday at a Ware Shoals area property where officials say they rescued more than 270 animals from what’s being called a puppy mill.
Someone who purchased an animal from the Indian Mound Road property contacted Laurens County Animal Control on Tuesday night with concerns about the well-being and health of the animals there, said Courtney Snow, public information officer for Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. Soon after, deputies were called in to help investigate and they discovered the hundreds of animals, many stacked in unclean cages.
“It’s pretty horrific — there’s at least 150 dogs out here, 100 or so chickens, ducks, rabbits, just a little bit of everything,” Dr. Kim Sanders of Anderson County P.A.W.S. said. “Most of them are in pretty good health — they’re at least fed. Other than that, the living conditions are just horrific. They’re just stacked in cages on top of one another, absolutely just covered in urine and feces. It’s just been really heartbreaking to know most of those animals have never been outside a cage their entire life.”
A sign attached to the red, wooden privacy fence around the property reads “This property is maintained for the comfort and security of our animals. If you don’t like that please go away.”
Sheriff Don Reynolds said the property owners did not cooperate when animal control arrived Tuesday to investigate. Deputies were asked to assist and the property owners remained uncooperative, but officers were able to develop probable cause that the pair was running a puppy mill.
When officers got onto the property and began investigating, Reynolds said the scene was appalling. By about 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, animal control had a total count of the number of animals removed from the scene: 145 dogs, 107 chickens, 10 ducks, eight rabbits and two cats.
“The ammonia smell last night when we got there was so incredible that I don’t know how those animals were standing it,” he said.
Deputies arrested 70-year-old Barbara Anne Timms and 46-year-old Barry Leon Davis, both of 10822 Indian Mound Road in Ware Shoals. Each is currently facing two counts of ill-treatment of animals.
“Just because you have food or water, that’s not taking care of these pets,” Reynolds said. “To me, I can’t think of another word besides monstrous.”
A number of agencies — Anderson P.A.W.S., Humane Society of SC, Izzies Pond and Charleston Animal Society — came to the property on Wednesday to begin removing the animals.
Sanders said most of the dogs were Chihuahuas, though there were other breeds. From her experience, she said she sees rescues of this scale maybe once or twice a year. In this case, she said it absolutely appeared as if the dogs were being bred for sale.
“A lot of the females are pregnant, and there are puppies on site as well,” she said. “We always recommend adopting instead of buying, because you don’t know where they come from.”
The animals taken from the property will not be up for adoption, she said. They’ll have to be medically cleared first, processed at the shelters they’ll be housed at and even then, there are legal proceedings that will keep these animals from being put out for adoption.