Since the beginning of March, law enforcement has been searching for the suspects who threw four dogs over a fence at a South Carolina animal shelter, leading to the death of two of the Chihuahuas.
On Wednesday, Elizabeth Taylor Samuel turned herself in for her role in abusing the animals, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. The 56-year-old Sumter resident’s husband was also involved and could face charges, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office said the dogs were thrown over the fence at the Sumter SPCA around 7:30 p.m. on March 2, The State reported. Video shows the dogs being abandoned at the animal shelter.
Samuel said she and her husband took the dogs to the SPCA because they “repeatedly escaped from an enclosure at their residence,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
When the couple realized the animal shelter was closed for the night, Samuel said, they tossed the dogs over the fence, according to the news release.
The Chihuahuas were thrown over the fence “like a basketball,” according to Cindy Cook, executive director of the animal shelter, the Sumter Item reported.
Two of the small dogs were killed when they ran through gaps in the fence and were hit by cars, the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
“They were just trying to run back down the road to the people who dropped them off. We recovered their bodies, and we have the (surviving) male and female here,” Cook said of the dogs that only suffered “scrapes,” according to the Sumter Item.
If Samuel and her husband had gone to the shelter a little earlier, all four dogs would still be alive.
“If the people had come earlier that day, I mean we were here, we could have taken the animals in, and instead they chose to come at night when no one was here,” SPCA employee Crystal Prescott said, according to WIS. “It’s cruel.”
The Sumter SPCA is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and receives animals until 4 p.m., while it’s closed Wednesday and Sunday, according to its website. It receives animals until 2 p.m. Saturday, just hours before the Chihuahuas were thrown over the fence.
Samuel was charged with four counts of ill treatment of animals, first offense, the sheriff’s office said in the news release.
Felony ill treatment of animals carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each conviction, under South Carolina law.
The sheriff’s office said Samuel’s husband “plans to turn himself in early next week when he returns to Sumter from working out of town,” according to the news release.
“People need to realize that they cannot treat animals any kind of way,” Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said in the news release. “They sign up to take care of these animals when they get them and they are in charge of the animals’ health until they are given another proper home.”
Investigators identified Samuel and her husband as the suspects after receiving multiple tips from members of the community, according to the news release.