Thanks to the quick thinking of two sisters and the actions of an “army” of animal advocates, a South Carolina shelter is being forced to clean up its act, with more improvements to come, after being exposed using social media.
Jessica Reed Kulas of Moore, South Carolina was traveling through Bennettsville on Saturday with her sister when the two came across a sign reading Bennettsville Animal Shelter. Thinking of adding a pet to the family, the sisters decided to check out this shelter and walked into hell. Jessica describes what they found at the Huckabee Street facility in an October 23 Facebook post
“My sister and I were visiting in Bennettsville SC yesterday when we came across a sign that read “Animal Shelter” so we decided to take a look as she is thinking of possibly bringing a dog back with her to Maine. This is what we came across. Location off of W Main (110 Huckabee St). Horrific conditions. No food or water for most of the animals and the smell of feces and urine everywhere. There was little light and most of the animals were petrified. We found a freezer full of black bags 🙁 I believe they gas the animals here. The gate was open and no one was working here. No one to talk to to find out what is going on. We found the Humane Society of Marlboro county, but it was closed. My sister and I are just sickened by this. It broke our hearts to drive away, but we didn’t know what to do.”
When Jessica saw the conditions of the animals, she immediately started snapping photos with her cell phone. The photos have since been shared thousands of times on social media. The Humane Society of the United States-South Carolina was contacted. They, along with many others, got in touch with Bennettsville mayor Heath Harpe. Harpe stated in an interview with WBTW that the shelter has since been cleaned up. Jessica elaborated on the conditions they found when she spoke with the news station
“We opened one of the doors and it was where the cat cages are. There were two little kitties right beside each other one was a orange tabby the other was a regular tabby. The orange tabby had no water, I mean bone dry. The cat litter was full of feces and urine and it smelled and he was balled up in the corner poor little thing.”
Mayor Harpe was able to answer many of the concerns addressed on social media over the weekend. Bennettsville received a $5,000 grant from the US Humane Society in 2013 to get rid of the gas chamber. It’s still on the property, but Harpe says it’s not being used, saying it was covered in cobwebs when he inspected it. He said the freezer is used to store dead animals found in the city, who are then disposed of at a DHEC- certified facility.
The Bennettsville Animal Shelter is open from 10am until 12pm seven days a week. Harpe stated the city has one animal control officer but isn’t sure who was supposed to be at the shelter over the weekend. It’s EXTREMELY troubling to know the gate was unlocked and the shelter unsecured. Perhaps the shelter doesn’t realize there are monsters out there who break into shelters just to kill the animals inside. It’s fortunate we’re reading about a case of neglect rather than a case of animals being found killed!
As for the $5,000 grant given to the shelter back in 2013-what are they waiting for? The money would go a long way on improving the shelter. Harpe told WBTW he’s in contact with contractors who plan to repair some of the structural damage to the inside of old cinder block structure visible in the photos taken.
A video that shows more of the cats and dogs living in their own filth without food or water can be seen below:
Our thanks go out to these two ladies. They could have walked away and done nothing for these poor cats and dogs. Instead, Jessica and her sister took the first step in gathering a small army of animal advocates who quickly spoke up to help the animals. No information is available as to whether rescues have been allowed to step in and get the shelter pets to a better place. If anyone knows more, please leave a comment.
What’s most disturbing to me is there are many, many more shelters in the same condition. Dogs and cats are being neglected and no one is the wiser. People, if you ever visit a shelter and see conditions like this, please report them.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Jessica Reed Kulas. She and her sister were able to feed and water the animals before leaving the shelter.