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
Written by PETA
Earlier this week, following PETA's undercover investigation of a Myrtle Beach–area hoarding facility that had been warehousing hundreds of cats and an arthritic dog named Hope in storage units, roughly 240 cats and the dog were seized from Elizabeth Owen by order of a Horry County judge. Roughly half the cats who were seized were so ill that they had to be put out of their misery.
The cats had been "stored," some for most or all of their lives, in filthy, cramped cages, unable to get away from their own waste or even stretch or walk, let alone enjoy life. Dozens of cats were suffering from chronic, painful conditions such as anal maggots, herpes, tumors, seizures, multiple abdominal abscesses, severe gum disease, and more. Some people are criticizing county officials for euthanizing the sickest cats, but the real outrage is that these cats had been allowed to suffer and languish for so long with no quality of life whatsoever. If the cats were too far gone to save, it is because of the long-term neglect that Owen subjected them to—neglect that merits state-level cruelty-to-animals charges and a prohibition on obtaining any more animals. Hoarders are notorious for starting back up where they left off if such judicial measures aren't taken.
Unfortunately, after Owen's attorney told the judge that Hope and about 30 of the cats were Owen's "personal pets," the judge agreed to have them returned to Owen's custody, following a medical exam by the county's contract veterinarian. Hope, who is old and suffering from painful arthritis, is mostly kept in one of the storage units in a small pen and on a cold, hard cement floor or tethered outside in front of the warehouse. Owen has been ordered to provide the animals with veterinary care at her own expense, but it remains to be seen if she will do so. Owen couldn't manage to keep the facility stocked with litter or food, let alone take ailing and even dying animals for veterinary care or euthanasia. Her current registration to solicit charitable funds has been suspended by the Office of the Secretary of State, which means she cannot lawfully solicit donations or items to sell in her thrift store. If the medical condition of the 107 cats whom the county was forced to euthanize are any indication, the 30 animals who went back to that hellhole are doomed.
Not surprisingly, the 101 feline survivors who remain in the county's temporary shelter facility are also sick. The county is providing veterinary care for them, and PETA is hopeful that once they recover, they will find happiness with responsible families who will give them all the love, attention, and catnip they need and deserve.
Written by Daphna Nachminovitch
Update: After receiving evidence from PETA's six-month undercover investigation at Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary, Judge Bradley Mayers ordered the removal of all animals from the facility. More information regarding these new developments will be made available in the coming days.
Some 300 cats are suffering in filthy wire cages stacked inside dark, unventilated, ammonia-filled storage units at the grotesquely misnamed Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary (SVAS) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. PETA has submitted a formal complaint to the local prosecutor and is calling for the cats to be seized immediately.
Please take a moment to e-mail Horry County prosecutor Greg Hembree and politely ask him to pursue the seizure of all cats from SVAS and to file cruelty-to-animals charges against Elizabeth Owen.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
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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