HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Dozens of sick animals are recovering in Lowcountry shelters after being rescued from a home in Colleton County.
Officials say 67 dogs and six cats are flea infested, dehydrated and emaciated.
"They're in bad condition, all of them. They're flea infested, emaciated, they're matted. Some have injuries on them, they are constipated, and they're just a mess. This is probably top in the most horrific that I've seen, and I've been doing this a very long time," said Hilton Head Human Association Director, Franny Gerthoffer.
The pets are being taken care of in Ridgeland, but the story actually gets worse.
Colleton County Animal Control found multiple dead animals on the property. Now, the owner is facing 10 different charges, including animal cruelty and $10,000 in fines.
One look at sick rescued dogs and cats could break the hardest of hearts.
"Our driver, who went to pick them up last night, honestly had to turn away and take a moment because it was so emotionally overwhelming. It was not a nice situation to see, and then looking at the dogs this morning, it's still a difficult situation to handle," said Gerthoffer.
It's even difficult for the animal rescue professionals who see things like this on a daily basis.
"Of course when you work in a shelter, you see bad things, but this is just…the quantity of animals…67 of them, all in bad condition…," said Nancy Ford, Hilton Head Human Association.
Officials say they were living in vile conditions and not being taken care of.
"Crazy fleas, lots of fleas. Some of them have lacerations to the face and neck and even hair loss," Ford said.
"Many this morning are testing positive for heart worms," said Gerthoffer.
They spent all day doing what they can to save the cats and dogs; vaccinating them, feeding them, testing for diseases. They want to get them healthy and into good homes - but there's a problem.
"The woman whose dogs these are, she wants them back. So, we have to wait to see what happens," Gerthoffer said.
Colleton County Animal Control says it's up to the courts to decide if the owner gets her dogs back.
"To even entertain the fact that somebody would be allowed to have the animals back in the condition they were in, is truly mindboggling. We're hoping all the right things happen and that we're able to fully take care of these animals," Gerthoffer said.
Colleton County Animal Control would not release the identity of the owner, but they say more charges and fines are still pending.