Written by Jeff Mackey
A measure of justice has been served in South
Carolina, where, following
PETA's undercover investigation, the
woman who fatally neglected cats at the now-thankfully defunct Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary (SVAS) outside Myrtle Beach was convicted of violating a county animal-care
ordinance this morning before Magistrate Margie Bellamy Livingston. Elizabeth Owen,
who didn't even bother to show up but instead submitted her plea in writing,
was fined $500 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, but both were suspended.
In March 2011, a Horry County judge ordered the seizure of a dog and approximately 240 cats from Owen—many of whom were suffering from
painful conditions, such as anal maggots, herpes, tumors, seizures, abdominal
abscesses, and severe gum disease. Nearly half of the animals had to be
euthanized to alleviate their suffering.
officials returned the dog and 30 cats to Owen. And then it got worse: County officials
did not make good on promises to check on those animals'
welfare. Meanwhile, Owen left the state—in violation of her bond, according to
a prosecutor—and evidently took those animals with her. Although PETA's
investigatory evidence was passed between four attorneys in the 15th Circuit
Solicitor's Office, none of them filed state cruelty-to-animals charges against
Owen. No other jurisdiction has ever failed to file
charges based on such strong evidence against a hoarder still in possession of
As with many so-called "no-kill" operations, SVAS was merely a cover for an animal hoarder. Owen knowingly deprived suffering cats of veterinary care—even refusing offers
of free emergency treatment for dying cats—and stated that she would rather let
the cats die at the facility than have them taken by officials.
In a disturbing twist, just before most of her animals were
seized, Owen sent approximately 25 cats to Caboodle Ranch, another horrific "no-kill" cat "sanctuary,"
in Florida. Based on evidence gathered in a separate PETA investigation,
officials there seized
nearly 700 cats and arrested and charged Caboodle's founder and operator, Craig Grant, with
felony cruelty to animals.
recidivism rate for animal hoarders like Owen is virtually 100 percent. The
failure of Owen's sentence to prevent her from causing more animals to suffer
and die exposes a critical weakness in South Carolina law, which lacks a
commonsense provision—found in most other states' laws—prohibiting convicted
cruelty offenders from owning or possessing any animals.
Craig Grant and Caboodle Ranch continue to ask the public
for donations, including money to pay Grant's legal fees. Ask Florida officials
to cancel Caboodle's registration to solicit contributions.
Please join PETA in calling for legislation that would
enable all South Carolina courts to bar those convicted of cruelty from having
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.