South Carolina

Social media helps in hunt for SC animal abusers

A dog and cat, both showing severe signs of neglect, were brought into the Beaufort County Animal Shelter Thursday afternoon.

The cat had to be euthanized because of its injuries.

The dog is recuperating after emergency surgery, though its future health is uncertain.

Both animals likely could have been saved, however, if they were brought in soon after their injuries, animal control director Tallulah Trice said Friday.

“We understand that many people can’t afford to take their pets to the veterinarian, though we try to educate them about the responsibility of caring for pets,” Trice said. “But the main thing is for them to contact us early so we can point them in the right direction and hopefully get help for the animal.”

The cat, missing much of its face, was dropped off at the shelter after being attacked by the family’s dog six months earlier, according to Trice. The family said it had called a few months earlier and the shelter said to bring the cat in immediately, but the owners never did.

They were cited for animal cruelty at the shelter. It is up to a judge to determine their penalty. That penalty often includes a fine and restitution for any veterinary bills.

After taking the cat to Port Royal Veterinary Hospital Thursday evening, it was determined the cat, which weighed three pounds, was in too much pain, Trice said.

“This cat has suffered too long and at times the most humane thing to do is euthanize,” the shelter said on its Facebook page.

The pit bull puppy similarly was not brought in immediately after an injury.

What likely started as a small eye laceration that could have been healed with an antibiotic ointment was left untreated and led to a severe infection. The eye had to be removed in an emergency surgery Thursday night, Trice said.

Although the surgery went well, Trice said, it was discovered the puppy has parvo, a virus characterized by vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. This virus often can lead to death in puppies – particularly those who are already weak. The puppy is being given antibiotics and fluids, Trice said.

The woman who brought the approximately 8-week-old puppy in said she got it from a breeder who was going to kill it because of the problem with its eye.

She would not provide any information on the breeder, however.

The shelter then took to social media.

After posting the puppy’s picture and some basic information, the shelter has heard from several people about where the puppy might have come from, Trice said.

That helped the shelter in its ongoing investigation Friday, which could lead to rescuing more animals from the litter and finding the person responsible.

“The ability to hold people accountable has gotten a lot better because of social media, and it’s an outlet we can really utilize and have been doing more of in the past several months,” Trice said. “The public is helping us with a lot of our investigations.”

Trice said the shelter also uses social media to raise the awareness and hopefully encourage people to seek help sooner.

“We thought we had to point out things that we see everyday to let people know what’s going on,” she said. “I don’t want the public to be scared that if they bring an animal in, we will cite them. But it’s better they bring them in sooner rather than later because we are there to help.”