Authorities arrested multiple people and seized hundreds of animals in South Carolina after launching an extensive animal abuse investigation.
On July 16, Laurens County Animal Control deputies responded to a Gray Court property, where they found horses, hogs, rabbits, hens, roosters, dogs and other animals in varying states of distress and malnourishment and without proper access to food or water.
Many of the horses had “severely overgrown hooves” and their teeth were in “poor condition,” the Lauren’s County Sheriff’s Office reported.
“A large barrel containing multiple deceased chickens was discovered, as well as dead chickens allowed to decay on top of a cage,” the sheriff’s office noted, adding “many items located on the premises led investigators to believe there was a cockfighting operation being conducted.”
In all, the sheriff’s office said, deputies found over 400 animals at the property, including 12 horses, 30 dogs, approximately 356 chickens, four hogs, three piglets, and eight rabbits.
Robert Milton Kellett III, Tina Messer Hurley and Jeffery Justice Dale Williams were arrested and charged with 19 counts of ill treatment of animals, torture, as well as one count of ill treatment of animals, overworking, according to the Lauren’s County Sheriff’s Office.
Kellet and Hurley also face other criminal charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle, receiving stolen goods and trafficking in meth, while Williams received an additional charge of criminal conspiracy.
Another pair, Heidi Tenille Mathes and Jacky Dean Yopp Jr., were also arrested and both charged with distribution of meth.