HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Around two dozen dogs were taken out of a Hilton Head Island home this week - half of them dead. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is calling it a criminal investigation.
The dogs were found at a home on Lands End Road in the Sea Pines Resort. After speaking to investigators, we've learned that 26 dogs were in the home, 12 were found dead, 14 were taken to area animal hospitals for evaluation.
"It's a criminal investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the dead animals and the possible neglect of animals as well," said Captain Bob Bromage, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
Captain Bromage says the sheriff's office got involved when Sea Pines security contacted them. He says the homeowner gave Animal Control permission to take the remaining living dogs out of the home. The bodies of the remaining 12 are being sent to Clemson University until next autopsies in an effort to determine the cause of death. It's that information, along with the veterinarian's statements, that will help determine if any criminal charges will be filed.
Captain Bromage says since they opened the case, investigators have learned this isn't the first time the woman has been looked into by police. About five years ago, the Bacon County Sheriff's Office filed a report detailing a time when officers were called to check on a possible case of animal cruelty. Police were told a dog was left alone in a van parked on the woman's property with an empty bowl and the smell of urine and feces coming from the van.
"We always ask people, if they don't think that they can take care of their animals, to contact somebody and we'll find them a resource to help them," Captain Bromage said.
At this point, the woman isn't facing any charges.