More than a dozen pets have been rescued after they were found living in filth in a Beaufort home.
The county calls it a case of animal abuse and hoarding.
The owner surrendered 18 cats to Beaufort County Animal Control Thursday.
The animals were discovered at a home on Pine Court North in Beaufort living in cages, covered in feces and urine.
Beaufort Police Officers and Beaufort County Animal Services went to the home Thursday to attempt to talk to the resident, a 51-year-old woman.
Officers were met with the overwhelming odor of urine, ammonia and rotting trash emanating from the residence.
Beaufort PD investigators obtained a search warrant to enter the residence, at which time BCAS officers located and discovered 18 cats in extremely poor health inside the residence.
Some of the cats were contained in rusting cages that were filled with fecal matter and appeared to have been in the cages for an extended period, unable to fully use their legs. The caged cats suffered from malnutrition and apparent ammonia burns from the urine that collected in the cages.
Roaches and fleas infested the cats’ bedding and living areas and some of them were too weak to lift their heads.
In addition to the cats inside the home, officers discovered numerous dead rats and an injured turtle with a broken shell, clinging to life in fetid water inside a bathtub.
More than a dozen of those animals had to have surgery.
Others are on the mend as well, dealing with Upper respiratory infections due to the ammonia smell from the urine, or other neglect-related injuries.
Hilton Head Humane Society is working to nurse them back to health and hopefully find them new homes.
“They’ve been sitting in their cages, sitting in their feces and urine so they are burned and a little bit scarred from that,” said Franny Gerthoffer, Executive Director of the Hilton Head Humane Association. “There just hasn’t been a lot of mobility. We are finding that some of them are just getting used to stretching their legs, to moving around for.. who knows? For who knows how long. But they are responding well to care which is very very encouraging.”
The condition of the residence was so unsanitary and unsafe that the city of Beaufort building and codes enforcement officials deemed it unsafe for habitation and declared the residence condemned.
The woman who owned the animals is under investigation.
So far no criminal charges have been filed.
The animals will continue to be nursed back to health and hopefully will be available for adoption in a few weeks.