14 dogs recovered from HHI home still in 'protective custody'

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - The fate of 14 dogs rescued from a Hilton Head Island home last month remains undecided as an investigation continues.

Twelve dogs were also found dead at Omi Walden's home, and that prompted Beaufort County Animal Services and the sheriff's office to get involved.

Walden turned herself into police last week and faces 18 counts of improperly burying an animal and ill-treatment of animals - all misdemeanor charges.

"The basic issue was that we had a number of deceased dogs that had been ill that mostly died around the same time, and they were still there and unburied," said Dr. Marikay Campbell with Port Royal Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Campbell examined the 14 rescued dogs and said they were in mostly good health and friendly. Eleven were found inside Walden's home and three were inside a vehicle outside the home.

She said they are being looked after at an area animal hospital for the time being in a kind of protective custody.

"Fortunately, people noticed something and we were able to intervene, and hopefully get a good outcome for everybody," Campbell said.

She said cases like this happen more often than you would think, and that it should raise community awareness to be more aware of their surroundings and what could be happening next door.

"It's heartbreaking for everybody involved, everybody that's cared for them, and also I'm sure for the owner, that this sort of a thing has happened," Campbell said.

Again, the fate of the 14 recovered from Walden's home is still up in the air, and will be until either Walden signs over ownership to a shelter or a judge makes a ruling on whether or not she can keep them.

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