COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Hundreds of dogs and other animals seized from a home in Edgefield County are now in a temporary emergency shelter in Columbia.
The owner, identified as 54-year-old Callie Abel, has been arrested for animal cruelty.
The Edgefield County Sheriff's Office is now investigating Abel's home as a suspected puppy mill where dozens of breeds had been living in deplorable conditions.
Over 200 dogs were rescued from the home. Many of them had fur so severely matted that all of it had to be cut off. Others suffered from malnourishment.
Now, the animals are being fed and checked on by a team of veterinarians.
Kim Kelly, South Carolina director for the Humane Society of the United States says about three months ago concerned citizens alerted them to a possible puppy mill.
"We found out most of the dogs were kept in rabbit hutches or small enclosures on the ground. A few of them were actually tethered to the ground and some were running around the property," Kelly said.
Kelly says the animal protection laws in the state need to be stricter.
"There isn't a law that says you can't have 200 animals on your property," Kelly said.
State Senator Jake Knotts wants to introduce legislation that would require anyone selling animals to be licensed and inspected by the state.
"Unless you see it, you wouldn't believe it," Knotts said. "These dogs out here deserve a life better than this."
Many of the animals have never known life outside a crate or a human touch.
"Putting them onto the road to a better life is heartwarming and makes the work worthwhile," said Kelly.
As for the future of many of these dogs, they are currently being processed as evidence in the case against Abel. It is not known when they will be adopted out.