A Colleton County woman, 68-year-old Lynn VanHouse, is under investigation after 67 dogs and 6 cats were seized from her home. Colleton County Animal Control has taken over the investigation, as the breeder could face animal cruelty charges. The Hilton Head Humane Association and Beaufort County Animal Control are assisting in caring for the animals.
On Wednesday, dogs were being examined and put into safe-keeping before grooming.
“Mostly all of them were in very bad, very bad condition, probably the worst I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been involved in this type of work,” Hilton Head Humane Association Director Franny Gerthoffer says.
Small dogs like Chihuahua, Sheltie, and Pomerian breeds were among those found emaciated, flea-infested, neglected, some matted. The volunteers worked to examine them, vaccinated them, and treated them for fleas and heart worms.
“First of all, you just look at them and want to let them know that everything is going to be okay, and of course you know, they’re all out of sorts. But I will say that our driver that we sent to the residence to retrieve all of these animals once it was okay for us to do so…he said, his exact words were actually that it was an evil, evil situation,” Gerthoffer says.
Gerthoffer says VanHouse has an attorney, and wants the animals back.
“No one has legal ownership,” Spay Neuter Animal Clinic (SNAC) Director Nancy Foard says, “I mean they’ve just asked us to help with the medical and start making the dogs healthy.”
Foard says there were also a number of dead animals recovered from the Vanhouse’s property.
“Hopefully you know, we’re hoping with all the evidence that is available, that we’re looking for a more favorable outcome than that,” Gerthoffer says.
“It was eye-opening, again to your point, it was emotional and to the staff it was rewarding to see them happy and…it was nice to see them come around and be a little more comfortable in their surroundings when they started to talk back and I hope they were saying thank you,” she says.