Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19844
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), horse, bird (wildlife)
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Attorneys/Judges
Judge(s): Brenda Carpenter


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Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012

County: Edgefield

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 3 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Callie Abel

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

The Edgefield County Sheriff's Office conducted a raid Tuesday morning at a puppy mill located at 200 Holmes Pond Road just outside Johnston and took the owner, Callie Abel, 54, into custody on seven counts of ill treatment of animals. More charges are likely, Sheriff Adell Dobey said. "This is an ongoing investigation," he said. Aiding in the raid was the Humane Society of the US out of Washington DC who came with Animal Rescue trailers and dozens of volunteers, staff, and veterinarians. Nearly 300 animals were being seized including nine horses.

After the scene was cleared by the Sheriff's Office around 8:30 am, the Humane Society took over the logistics of inspecting each animal and tracking where each was taken and logged in before being placed in new kennels for transport to a holding facility in Columbia. From there each will be given full medical examinations to determine which dogs can be saved.

During a quick briefing, one of the team leaders said the group has done raids across the country, "and this is one of the largest raids I've ever been involved with, if not the largest."

The total number of animals was estimated at over 200 dogs, dozens of fowl (ducks, geese, chickens) and nine horses. There were additional dogs in the home and others running loose on the property. The number of bones littering the property were claimed to be deer bones, however; Kim Kelly stated that one of the vets said they were from "small animals". Trying to assertain how many animals would be pure speculation Kelly said.

Sheriff Dobey said his office had been receiving complaints about the owner and Animal Control has inspected the property previously, the last time believed to be in 2009, but conditions were within the law. The ony recent complaints were about noise, not ill treatment of animals Inv. Doran said. That obviously changed over time and after an undercover investigation brought probable cause warrants were issued and the raid went into the planning stage.

There were kennels on the ground, above the ground, fenced in areas, and the ground was littered with bones. There were two piles of what appeared to be ashes with more bones than ashes. Atop some of the kennels were spinal columns with ribs and rotting portions of the carcass still attached.

Water bowls, often times small children's pools, contained green water and others were muddy. Though a majority of the dogs appeared to be well fed, they were dirty and many had matted hair. Others were obviously underfed and appeared ill.

Investigators on the scene said the inside of the home the couple lived in was even worse. There were an unknown number of dogs in the house, some in kennels, and feces around the house. Trash was piled all around with only a narrow path to make their way around in the house.

In addition to the seven arrest warrants, a search warrant was also executed seizing a computer, paperwork, records, and other evidence. Chief Investigator Randy Doran said Abel was selling most of the animals over the internet.

"We're still working on it (the investigation) and we're going to file for more warrants," Inv. Doran said Tuesday night

Kim Kelly, State Director for the Humane Society USA, said they have been working with the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office since mid July. They aided in the investigation by having associates obtain dogs from Abel that were later found to have a list of medical conditions ranging from skin infections, ear and eye ailments, and disease. That information led to the seven arrest warrants.

Sheriff Dobey said that it would have been nearly impossible for them to conduct the raid without the help of the Humane Society. "They have been a tremendous help," he said adding that all the records of the examinations conducted by the Humane Society will be turned over to investigators and used as evidence in the case.

Sate Sen. Jake Knox, who has pushed for stricter animal cruelty legislation, arrived on the scene as did Edgefield County Councilman Rodney Ashcraft. Both were horrified of what they saw.

Councilman Ashcraft said that he is willing to propose an ordinance for dog breeders in Edgefield County as a result of his visit. Ashcraft said he would make sure it did not impose any regulations on citizens who have a pair of dogs and sells the puppies. But those in the business of breeding dogs or cats on a large scale, "They need to be held to a higher standard," Ashcraft said.

Edgefield County media were tipped to the impending raid by Sheriff Dobey and we were allowed access to the property once it was secured. Neither words nor pictures can do justice to the sights and smells of the operation. It was sickening.

According to jail officials, Abel was released on personal recognizance bonds Tuesday afternoon.


Case Updates



Callie Abel, the owner of an alleged puppy mill that was raided last week in Edgefield County, pleaded guilty Friday to all seven counts of ill treatment of animals.

The plea agreement included nine stipulations:

- She must pay court fees
- She must spay and neuter the three house dogs to be returned to her
- She will receive her bird
- She must clean her property within 60 days
- She must donate 30 bales of hay to Aiken Equine Rescue
- She must pay the SPCA for the boarding of her three house dogs
- She must clean her residence
- She must have no more than three dogs and one bird in Edgefield County
- She must surrender the other animals

"This punishment," Jim Rhodes, operator of Aiken Equine Rescue says, "first of all, there's no real fine. She gets to keep some dogs, even though they have to be spayed. Personal dogs, and a personal bird...to allow somebody to continue to own animals when they are found guilty of a crime, and this is at least her second offense, it's just not right, it's not right."

Assuming Abel meets the stipulations of the plea agreement, she will not face time in prison and will get to keep the three dogs and the bird.

"That doesn't make up in my mind for what she does," says Rhodes.

"I think she needs to have something happen to her that's more than a slap on the wrist," says neighbor Connie Boggs.

Rescuers and neighbors say they don't want to see Abel in jail because they're bitter; they say they just want a tougher sentence so she won't repeat her offenses.

"How do I feel?" says Charlie Chappee, who is the owners of Charlie's Angels and assisted in the bust. "Horrible. Sick to my stomach. She moved from one county, busted, moved to another, busted. Who's to say she's not going to start all over again?"

Neighbor Connie Boggs echoed the same question.

"It's kind of appalling," says Jim Rhodes. "The punishment does not fit the crime. When people are in these situations, I think she'll be right back in business."

They say they're also concerned about the broader message this sends to any individual who runs a puppy mill.

"If I was someone else running a puppy mill," says Chappee, "it wouldn't deter me from doing it. No jail time, no big fines, getting some dogs back..."

"It makes anybody that wants to have a large number of breeding dogs or cats or equines think, 'I can do as I please because nobody is going to come in and supervise,'" says Boggs.

Judge BrendaCarpenter says she went this route instead of jail time to try to right things for the animals and ensure this doesn't happen again down the road. The Edgefield County Sheriff's Office had no comment, except to say they were pleased with the agreement.
Source: WJBF - Sept 21, 2012
Update posted on Feb 8, 2013 - 1:48AM 
The Equine Rescue of Aiken is expecting animals from the raid of an alleged puppy mill in Edgefield County that took place last week.

The group's manager, Jim Rhodes, tells us they are expecting horses, dogs, and puppies.

The group expects to go get the animals on Monday. There is no word on when the animals will be ready for adoption.
Source: WJBF - Sept 21, 2012
Update posted on Feb 8, 2013 - 1:45AM 
Aiken SPCA officials have just learned they will get 50 animals from the alleged Edgefield County puppy mill raid.

Aiken SPCA president and CEO Gary Willoughby says they will probably pick them up next week.

Around 300 animals were seized from Callie Abel's home in Edgefield County earlier this month.

Abel is in custody and she is charged with seven counts of ill treatment to animals.
Source: WJBF - Sept 21, 2012
Update posted on Feb 8, 2013 - 1:44AM 


After authorities raided an alleged puppy mill in Edgefield County, volunteers are treating the animals in a secret location. We can't tell you the location because of their safety. A lot of these dogs are finally getting the medical attention they need, some of them seeing a vet for the first time.

Right now, these brothers and sisters can only be identified by a number they wear. They're just a few out of hundreds that officials say we're bread for profit and nothing more.

"It was pretty heart breaking to walk on the property and see over 200 dogs, 9 horses and dozens of fowl living in pretty deplorable conditions," said Kim Kelly.

Kelly is the South Carolina State Director of the Humane Society of the United States. She was there Monday as the Edgefield County Sheriff's office busted up what they're calling a puppy mill.

These little guys (puppies) are the lucky ones, they only have to spend a few weeks of their lives in those conditions. But for their mom and the others like her she spent all the years of her life locked up in a rabbit cage, her feet probably never touching the ground, until now.

"The cages themselves were absolutely filthy dirty they reeked of ammonia from urine and excrement, the water was green and hadn't been cleaned in a long time, clearly," explained Kelly.

Kelly said South Carolina is one of the lowest ranked states in the country in terms of animal cruelty laws. That's something state senator Jake Knotts says he's working to change, "To make sure we have laws in south carolina that stop people who are in the business of puppy mills from running this type of operation," said Knotts.

For now these hundreds of pups are getting the care they need, vaccinations and treatment for their illnesses. Although the life these dogs had may not have been worth living just hours ago, these dozens of volunteers are giving these sweet pups a second chance.

"We're hoping that in this facility where they're being taken care of right now, we're setting them on the road to a better life."

Right now none of the dogs at the South Carolina facility are able to be adopted. That's because they're still considered evidence in this case. The suspect, Callie Abel, will have to turn over the rights to the dogs to the state, the humane society will then put the dogs in local shelters and in shelters in nearby states so that they can then be adopted.

If that happens, you can count on WJBF News Channel 6 to let you know how to adopt the dogs.
Source: WJBF - Set 12, 2012
Update posted on Feb 8, 2013 - 1:46AM 


Tuesday morning, the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office raided an alleged "puppy mill" at 200 Holmes Pond Road, just outside of Johnston. The owner, 54-year-old Callie Abel, was taken into custody on seven misdemeanor counts of ill treatment of animals.

The Humane Society assisted with the raid, providing care for hundreds of dogs, cats, and horses found on the property.

Neighbors say that since Callie Abel moved in, they have been shocked by what they've heard, seen, and smelled.

"It was outrageous," says neighbor Howard Briggs, of the sound the dogs made when howling and crying.

Briggs says that his nephew worked for Abel. The nephew was so disturbed that he called Briggs over to see the conditions.

"I was appalled at what I saw," says Briggs. "Dead dogs laying everywhere. There was no sense in it."

Briggs says that because of that scene, the noise, and the smell of burning, rotten flesh, he and other neighbors called the police multiple times. He says that the police came and investigated in the past, taking a few animals, but that Abel kept breeding.

"I think this is best," Briggs says. "She had too many animals to take care of. It was a puppy mill, that's what it was. A puppy mill."

A sign on the property reads that it is maintained for "comfort and security of the animals", and tells anyone who doesn't like that to "go away".

Not a lot of people saw behind the gates until the animals came out Tuesday, but a lot of dogs have been quietly funneled out for two years before the bust.

Charlie Chappee runs the Charlie's Angels Facebook page, an animal rescue in Aiken. She says she met Abel at an auction where Abel was carrying sick puppies with her trying to sell them. Warrants from the seven charges identify Chappee as leading The Humane Society to the animals.

Abel's website "Calabel's Designer Dogs" claims that she sells designer animals and is an animal lover. Chappee claims that Abel was in it for the money. She says that Abel would "get rid" of dogs when they were too old.

"I'd go and get as many dogs as I could," she says, "and all the ones she wouldn't let me take or that were hers for breedingâ€"it just made me sick knowing they're living in those conditions.

Chappie pretended to befriend Abel for two years in order to get the dogs out and help The Humane Society build a case.

"I pulled dogs out," Chappee says, "and got The Humane Society all the evidence they needed."

Seeing some of the dogs, it's hard to imagine someone not loving and caring for them. Chappee currently has more than 30 puppies she took before the bust; those dogs are still shy and scared, which isn't suprising given their living conditions.

Chappie says of one puppy, "He was in a dark kennel on the ground with dirty water, a barrel, and no bedding. He didn't get any attention and didn't know what love and pets and all that were."

"A lot of the breeder females," she adds, "were in rabbit hutches. That's all they knew, living on those bars with sores on their feet; living in their own feces and filth."

And while Charlie was the first angel for all those animalsâ€"and took more than 30 out beforehandâ€"she says they need love and homes from the rest of us now.

"They don't have a voice of their own," she says. "They can't speak up, they can't take care of themselves. They need people to do it."

To learn about those animals or take one home, please click here or call Charlie at 803-522-3306.
Source: WJBF - Sept 12, 2012
Update posted on Feb 8, 2013 - 1:43AM 

References

  • WJBF - Sept 11, 2012

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