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Who is Caroline Dawn Pennington? South Carolina animal rescuer arrested after being found with 30 dead animals at home

Pennington was arrested for ill-treatment of animals (Image via Richland Sheriff's Office/Getty Images)
Pennington was arrested for ill-treatment of animals (Image via Richland Sheriff's Office/Getty Images)

Caroline Dawn Pennington, the CEO, and director of GROWL, a South Carolina nonprofit organization for animals, was arrested on June 3 for alleged ill-treatment of animals after cops discovered the decomposed bodies of dogs and cats inside her home.

Police investigated as part of a wellness check after receiving complaints about the "smell of death." The foul smell emanated from the animal cages containing the decaying bodies of 28 dogs and two cats inside Pennington's home.

Describing the horror, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott called it one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he’s ever seen. Lott was quoted as saying:

"It’s appalling and it’s heartbreaking. This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes. She betrayed that trust, and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her."

Investigators stated that the cause of their deaths was neglect and that they were left alone inside the home for up to nine months. As per the cops, the animals were found lying in their own waste.


Caroline Dawn Pennington: Animal rescue director turns murderer

The 47-year-old Caroline Dawn Pennington is quite a popular name in the animal rescue community in Columbia, South Carolina. Not only was she heading the "Global Rescue Welfare League," or GROWL, she was also employed by the Kershaw County Humane Society (KCHS).

However, a day before her arrest, Pennington resigned from KCHS citing personal reasons, said Jamie Woodington, president of the Board of Directors for KCHS. In its official statement, KCHS said:

"We were unaware of the former employee’s actions and are truly shocked and heartbroken. Our dedicated staff will continue with our mission to serve the lost and homeless pets of Kershaw County."

The organization also clarified that Pennington would no longer be working for them.

Based on the investigation, officials believe that the animals died from severe starvation and dehydration. Meanwhile, Richland County Animal Control worked with RCSD to remove the decomposed bodies of the animals from home.

@nbtx4019 Why were wellnes checks done periodically?? This should not be happening in the US! Make it a federal crime to abuse, neglect and kill animals.

Caroline Dawn Pennington was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and charged with 30 counts of ill-treatment of animals. Pennington's bond was set at $75,000 with the conditions that she has GPS monitoring and no contact with animals. Pennington was also not allowed to raise funds for the nonprofit.

Caroline Dawn Pennington, the 47-year-old CEO and director of GROWL, was arrested Friday and charged with 30 counts of ill-treatment of animals after officers discovered the bodies of 28 dogs and two cats decomposing in cages inside her home.

Officials also noted that Caroline Dawn Pennington had a few run-ins with the law before her latest arrest. She had previously been convicted of defrauding the federal and South Carolina state Medicaid programs and conspiracy to commit tax evasion, along with a list of other offenses.

There is also a growing comparison between Caroline Dawn Pennington and the former owner of Fairfield dog rescue president, Heidi Lueders, who allegedly starved five "rescued" pit bulls in their cages at her rented home in Fairfield, Connecticut.


Given that Caroline Dawn Pennington has a criminal history, police are also investigating GROWL, registered as a non-profit organization under 501(c)3, for any fraudulent activity. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone who donated to GROWL in the last year to contact them.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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