A Conway man will get two birds seized from his home last month returned to him after he paid more than $3,000 in restitution and cleaned up his home, Magistrate Bradley Mayers ruled Wednesday.
The two birds were seized along with 37 dogs, including some show dogs and one that was recognized at the Westminster Kennel Club, from the home of Eduardo and Amber Chaviano on March 5 off U.S. 378.
Eduardo Chaviano returned to court Wednesday after he pleaded guilty March 18 to improper care and treatment of animals. Horry County police charged Chaviano after they found the dogs and two birds were living in deplorable conditions inside the house.
During the March hearing, Mayers ordered Chaviano to pay $3,160 in restitution to the Horry County Animal Care Center in exchange for no fine being levied against him, and the couple had to clean up their home in the next 30 days.
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On Wednesday, Mayers said he returned the birds, which are 16 and 21 years old, to Chaviano because the house was cleaner and the restitution had been paid. If Chaviano had not abided by Mayers’ orders, he faced up to 30 days in jail.
“He’s complied with everything I’ve asked,” Mayers said.
Horry County Officer Earl Ward said the house was “up to standards,” but officers would continue to do periodic checks on the couple.
On Tuesday, Janie F. Waddell, 72, pleaded guilty to violating the county’s animal care and treatment ordinance before Magistrate Mark Harris, who sentenced her to a $100 fine or five days in jail but suspended that sentence. Harris ordered Waddell to pay the restitution by June 1.
Waddell’s plea was negotiated so that two other charges, violation of the county’s litter accumulation ordinance and the rabies ordinance, were dismissed Tuesday with her guilty plea, Harris said.
The restitution was sought to cover costs the animal care center incurred when it took 20 dogs seized by Horry County police on March 31 from Waddell’s property on Rosario Place.
During the March hearing for Chaviano while looking at photos of the dogs, which had matted coats, and photos Horry County Animal Control officers took of the inside of the home that included feces and urine covering the floor, Mayers said he was at a loss for words.
“Some of these photos, it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in months, if not years,” Mayers said on March 18.
Eduardo Chaviano said at that time it had been between four and five months since the home had been properly cleaned, so “it’s accumulated for a while.”
Holding a photo of dog hair clinging to the ceiling inside the home, Mayers said, “I’m having a hard time believing that.”
The seizure at Chaviano’s home came one day after officers took 146 dogs from another Conway home where police said a puppy mill was operated. All of the dogs from both cases were treated for medical conditions, shots and cleaned up and placed up for adoption by county officials.
Officers went to the Chaviano home on March 5 after they received an anonymous complaint about many dogs living in deplorable conditions, Ward said on March 18. The person had been to the home and saw the animals.
The Chavianos said the person was last at their home eight months ago, but police said they investigated the tip as soon as they received it.
When officers arrived March 5, Amber Chaviano met them at the door and refused to allow the officers inside, Ward said. Eduardo Chaviano was called and he told officers he would be there that afternoon and arrived about 4:30 p.m.
But when Eduardo Chaviano got there, he also refused to allow officers inside, so they sought a search warrant, Ward said.
Once inside the home, Ward said they found 37 dogs and two birds. Some dogs were being held in cages and others were running freely in conditions that would “take your breath,” Ward said on March 18.
During that hearing, Mayers also said that none looked like show dogs from their photos of matted fur stained with urine and feces. He noted a photo of a plaque that showed Amber Chaviano had received a merit award in 2004 with one of the dogs from the Westminster Kennel Club.
Amber Chaviano asked to have that dog, a Lhasa Apso named Tygerlily, and a few more returned to the couple. She said she let the dogs’ hair grow for the winter and they were about to get a summer hair cut.
“I have yet to see a dog in this entire 37 dogs that are a show-dog quality or even close,” Mayers said on March 18.
A dozen or so concerned residents attended the hearing in March.
On Wednesday, Cheryl Essex waited for the results.
She said she will continue to monitor animal abuse cases in the county and continue to try and lobby for stronger laws and ordinances to protect animals in the area.
If you’re living in a municipality such as Myrtle Beach, Conway or Surfside Beach, call your police department for help with animal issues or to report abuse.
If you’re living in an unincorporated area of Horry County, call an environmental control officer at an Horry County police precinct or 248-1520. The officers are on duty from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and are on call for emergencies after hours.
For information about adopting a dog or other animal, call the Horry County Animal Care Center at 915-5171.
During a meeting last month, Sen. Greg Hembree, R-North Myrtle Beach, said he is crafting a bill aimed at preventing puppy mills and regulating such operations.