BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - Feb. 28 UPDATE: Based on the final report from the veterinarian’s office, Beaufort Police obtained 20 warrants, one per affected cat and one for the injured turtle, for ill-treatment of animals.
According to the Beaufort Police Department, a first offense of this statute carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. They say the suspect is 51-year-old Rhonda Kay C. Osborne. Osborne has turned herself in.
The Beaufort Police Department is investigating a case of animal abuse after 18 cats and a turtle were found in unsanitary conditions, and in bad health.
Wednesday members of BPD were notified by Beaufort County Animal Services of numerous reports of possible animal cruelty occurring at a residence in the 500 block of Pine Court North in Beaufort.
Officers and animal services went to the home to talk to the 51-year-old woman who lived at the home. According to officers, they were met with the overwhelming odor of urine, ammonia and rotting trash coming from the home.
Investigators obtained a search warrant to enter the home. Beaufort County Animal Services officers located 18 cats in extremely poor health inside the home. Some of the cats were in rusting cages, filled with fecal matter, and appeared to have been in the cages for an extended period of time, unable to fully use their legs.
The caged cats were suffering from malnutrition and what appeared to be ammonia burns from the urine that collected in the cages.
Roaches and fleas infested the cats’ bedding and living areas. Some of the cats were too weak to lift their heads.
Officers found numerous dead rats and an injured turtle with a broken shell, “clinging to life” in fetid water inside a bathtub.
The 51-year-old woman was not at home during the execution of the search warrant.
The city of Beaufort building and codes enforcement officials deemed the home unsafe for habitation and declared it condemned due to how unsanitary and unsafe it was.
The investigation remains open and charges are pending against the woman living in the home.
Those animals have been taken in by a local shelter and are being nursed back to health.
All 18 cats have been rescued and are getting the medical attention that they need. And the staff here at the Hilton Head Humane Association is spending time trying to identify them so that they can put them up for adoption as quickly as possible.
“It’s been actually very remarkable that in less than 24 hours these animals have been rescued and then addressed and now being medically assessed and treated,” said rescuer Franny Gerthoffer.
Of the 18 cats, only one was seriously ill. But they are all being treated for smaller problems
“Once it gets started they start to feel better immediately. “
Several complaints had been made to Beaufort County animal control about the smell coming from the home. That is what saved the animals’ lives.
“The idea is to really get the information to the people that can go in and do something.”
The Humane Association deals with hoarding from time to time.
“We don’t know the situation or what brought the owner to this point."
They are happy they were able to help before any animals faced more danger.
“It’s an emotional situation but you have to, you have to now fix the situation.“
Sooner they’re treated, the sooner the cats can find new homes.
“As soon as they are available for adoption we will put them up for adoption, and we will let everyone know that.”