COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Gaston man has been charged with felony animal abuse after allegedly cutting out a tumor from his dog’s abdomen after finding out veterinarian costs would be too high to perform the surgery, Lexington County Animal officials said.
Carson Lamar Cowles, 59, has been charged with one count of ill treatment toward animals, which is a felony charge that can carry up to a maximum of five years of imprisonment, according to officers. Cowles also faces three citations for failure to inoculate for rabies.
Cowles called several local veterinarian offices to inquire how much it would cost to remove his approximately 15-year-old dachshund’s tumor, according to investigators. After discovering costs were too high, investigators allege that Cowles removed the tumor himself and then called veterinarian offices to find out how much it would cost to have his dog stitched.
One of the veterinarian offices that Cowles called informed Lexington County Animal Services investigators of the incident. Investigators promptly carried out a search warrant at Cowles’ home in 4000 block of Fish Hatchery Road and seized the dachshund and took Cowles into custody.
“Pet ownership is something we take seriously,” Lexington County Animal Control Director Roy Mefford said. “There are resources that are available for pet owners struggling to afford medical care for their pets so that animals don’t suffer from not receiving treatment from licensed professionals. Animal abuse is not tolerated in this County.”
The dachshund underwent medical treatment from an on-staff veterinarian at the Lexington County Animal Shelter and is recovering. Two other dogs located on the property were released to care of nearby family members. The two dogs were unharmed.
Cowles bond was set at $2,500 Thursday morning and is not allowed to possess animals until the conclusion of the case. He is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center.
Neighbors question how Cowles could risk his pet's safety this way.
“I look at my dog as a member of the family and I wouldn’t cut a tumor out of my child. There’s a chance that infection could set in. A lot of things could go really wrong,” James Bristow, who lives nearby Cowles, said. “If you can’t afford to take care of your animal, probably don’t need to have it. I can sympathize, and I can understand wanting to do the right thing for your animal, but sometimes doing the right thing might not be the easiest thing. It might be giving your animal into better hands.”
County officials urge those that have pets to seek proper medical care for their animals in emergencies and to take their pets for regular check-ups at local, licensed veterinarian offices.