Surfside Beach police charge Charleston man with eight counts of animal cruelty

troot@thesunnews.comJuly 24, 2013 

James Hugh Wetzel

— Police arrested a Charleston man Tuesday after eight dogs – one dead – were found abandoned in a Surfside Beach home the man vacated, according to an incident report.

Police said the dogs were discovered in the home with no food or water two days after the man moved out.

James Hugh Wetzel, 31, of Charleston was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center on eight counts of ill treatment of animals and was being held there Wednesday, according to jail records.

Surfside Beach police took Wetzel into custody when he surrendered to face the charges, according to a report.

Officers were notified about the dogs in a call around 2:45 p.m. Monday. Police went to 1011-A South Poplar Drive in Surfside Beach, met an Horry County Animal Control officer at the house, and learned that the dogs were left unattended at the house for at least two days.

Neighbors told police that Wetzel called them and asked them to feed his dogs. He was moving out of the house, according to the report. The neighbors told police they refused and told Wetzel to make other arrangements.

Two days later, the neighbors went to check on the dogs and found “horrible living conditions,” according to the report. When officers arrived outside the home, they could smell urine and feces.

Inside the house, four Bulldog puppies were in a kennel without food or water and the kennel was full of feces, according to the report. The mother of the puppies was barricaded in a room away from the puppies, and that dog also did not have food or water. A Pekingese also was inside the house without food or water.

Outside the house, police found a Chihuahua chained to a dog house next to a Pit Bull, who was dead and chained, according to the report. There was no food or water within reach of those dogs.

The neighbors told police they told Wetzel about the dog’s death and he asked them to bury it, according to the report. That was when the neighbors called animal control.

Wetzel’s fiancé told police she thought Wetzel and the neighbor had an agreement to care for the dogs, according to the report. The 26-year-old woman was upset about the death of one of her dogs.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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