Its a horrific case of animal hoarding.
97 animals in one home.
The owners Lynn and Chris Chinni have both been charged with three counts of cruelty to animals, but what about the pets?
Coastal Pet Rescue tells News 3 it heard about this hoarding case weeks ago, and made the call to animal control to get some help.
News 3 has also learned Lynn Chinni was selling her puppies, many of them sick, on Facebook and in front of local department stores.
Coastal Pet Rescue is doing their part to help these animals.
The agency counted 42 puppies at the shelter.
They were only able to take in 21 of the dogs young and old.
“Our first priority was the puppies,” explained Lisa Scarborough of Coastal Pet Rescue. “We got 11 puppies 5-7 weeks out to foster homes. we brought in six puppies 10-12 weeks old to the shelter. We had to do a lot of baths they were covered in feces, urine and fleas and many of them have distended bellies which may be a sign of worms.”
The worst may be this st bernard – named “patches” – who has lesions on all four legs – and is severely malnourished.
“We wont send anybody home until at least 8 weeks of age, and we won’t send anyone home until they are spade or neutered,” said Lisa Scarborough of Coastal Pet Rescue. “We are part of the solution for this process. and if i cant get them spade or nuetered then this situation proliferates. i need these animals to go to good safe loving homes, because they need to live better lives than they;ve been living.”
Coastal Pet Rescue is hoping to get more of the dogs, but they need to have some of their current animals adopted to make space.
They also need puppy food, puppy pads, and money to help pay for their care.
If you would like to help, go to http://www.coastalpetrescue.org.
The puppies from the home should be able to be adopted in about three weeks.
Officials say many of the kittens from the home may have to be put down.
Dozens of pets found living in deplorable conditions. One day later, their owners are charged with three counts of animal cruelty.
News 3 was the only station there when they were arrested. We talked to deputies and the couple about the accusations.
“You think you should be arrested?”
“Nope,” said Lynn Chinni.
But Lynn Chinni was arrested, and so was her husband Chris.
Both are now facing charges of animal cruelty.
“When we entered the residence we went in, there was feces urine everywhere in the house. It was as bad of a house as I’ve ever seen,” explained Cpl Tommy Williams of the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
Inside that house, 97 different dogs, cats and guinea pigs.
“There was an adult St Bernard there that had lesions on all four of his legs,” said Cpl Williams. “One was to the point it had puss coming out of it. Some of the others were skinny, full bellies which is a sign of worms. Some of the other animals appeared to have mange.”
Lynn Chinni said she knows there were a lot of animals, but she has a good reason.
“I do a rescue and I have PTSD. I’m a disabled veteran and they help me deal with a lot of stuff. My next door neighbor’s been helping me re-home them and that’s simply what I’ve been trying to do,” said Lynn Chinni.
“My family has been targeted from the Sheriff’s office,” said Chris Chinni.
That’s just part of what Chris Chinni had to say as he was being put in handcuffs by Effingham County Sheriff’s.
“Ninety-seven animals is a new one to me because I just had three mamas that just had puppies at one time and my wife has been working with rescue units to get rid of those,” explained Chinni.
“Ok, so its 70 animals. That’s still a lot of animals.”
“I’m not going to deny that. But as far as animal cruelty goes, no.”
“What about the fact there’s feces all in the house?”
“That’s because when they came to the house yesterday she didn’t even have a chance to clean up the house yet.”
“You say the environment those animals were in was OK.”
“I’ll tell you what,” said a defiant Chinni. “You can walk into my house any other time and there’s not a problem period. My wife takes very good care.”
“We just went to court not that long ago and it was tossed out. And here they are terrorizing my family.”
“He was cited in January for no proof of rabies and keeping of animals,” responded Williams. They were fined in Magistrate Court and are currently making payments on fines now. Those charges were not dropped.”
Since the Chinni’s were cited in January, investigators say the number of animals inside their home has doubled.
“I’ve been in his house three times,” said Cpl Williams. “The three times I’ve been in his residence its been in the same condition it was in yesterday.”
“We have since found out that Coastal Harbor Pet Rescue has reached out to them, to try to help them to take some of them,” explained the Corporal. “Because it has been a commonly known problem here.”
The couple’s teenage daughter was also taken by the Department of Family and Children Services, and they could face cruelty to children charges.
The animals are at the Effingham County shelter to determine if they are healthy and able to be adopted.
“These animals they are just like kids, they do not have any means of fending for themselves,” said Williams. “They have to depend on their owners for food water shelter. They are dependent at whoever owns them. Our way at looking at this is if you own an animal, you are going to have an animal, its just like a child, take care of it.”