Caroline Dawn Pennington Starved 30 Animals: Cops

Caroline Dawn Pennington

Caroline Dawn Pennington

The CEO of a nonprofit animal rescue organization in South Carolina was arrested after investigators found 30 caged and decomposing dead animals at her home, law enforcement say. Caroline Dawn Pennington, 47, was taken into custody last week and charged with 30 counts of animal abuse.

On May 22, deputies responded to an application for welfare at Pennington’s Dibble Lane home, according to a press release from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. The caller reportedly told the dispatcher that a “smell of death” was coming from Pennington’s apartment. Upon arriving at the scene, MPs and animal control staff reportedly confirmed the foul stench before making a grisly discovery inside: 28 dead dogs and two dead cats.

Many of the carcasses appeared to have been decomposing for several months, the Richmond County Sheriff said Leon Lott described as “one of the worst instances of animal cruelty” he had ever encountered.

“It’s horrific and it’s heartbreaking,” Lott said in a statement. “This is someone assigned by the community to take care of these animals and find them homes. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who depended on her.”

Investigators went on to say that based on the available evidence, it appeared that Pennington kept the animals confined in cages or crates with no food or water until they died of starvation or dehydration, according to the press release.

According to Columbia CBS affiliate WLTX, lawmakers say Pennington unlawfully operated a nonprofit animal rescue service called the Global Rescue Welfare League, or “GROWL.” The organization was reportedly 501(c)3 registered for about 10 years before being delisted by the Secretary of State after the animals were discovered.

“The house was in disrepair due to general neglect,” said Lt. Joe Clarke According to reports to WLTX. “The surfaces of the floor and cabinets were covered with feces, there were areas where you could tell these animals had urinated. It smells bad, it’s summer, it’s muggy. As we walked through the house, we kept finding dead animals in carriers… Some were unidentifiable as dogs or cats.”

Authorities described Pennington as “a well-known figure in the animal rescue community.”

In addition to directing GROWL, Pennington reportedly worked at the Kershaw County Humane Society for about four years. Jamie Woodingtonthe director of KCHS, told WLTX she was shocked to hear about the allegations against Pennington, who described her as a “nice woman” and a “hard worker”.

“She’s very open-minded. She is well spoken. She has always presented herself as someone who wants to do what is right for all animals,” Woodington told the broadcaster.

Pennington was sent to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Her bail was set at $75,000, assuming she wears a GPS monitor and has no contact with animals.

Investigators are asking anyone who has donated money to GROWL or Pennington to contact the Sheriff’s Department personally, as additional charges may be pending.

Pennington’s attorney Ally Benevento issued a statement to WIS-TV, a subsidiary of Columbia NBC.

“This is an incredibly tragic case with unimaginably horrific allegations. About one in four adults in this country suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder, and as often mental health problems manifest themselves in very disturbing ways,” Benevento wrote. “It is difficult for anyone to understand how anyone could have allowed what happened in this case, but there are some significant and serious mental health issues affecting Ms Pennington. She and her family work in very difficult circumstances and we respectfully ask for privacy and space to allow her and her family to focus on the mental health issues that need to be addressed.”

Benevento did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime asking for further comment.

Below are photos from the house where the animals were found.

WARNING: The following photos are illustrative and may disturb some readers.


[images via Richmond County Sheriff’s Department]

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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