A Richland County, South Carolina, couple has been arrested after their 11-year-old daughter and 11 dogs were allegedly found to have been living in “deplorable” conditions for months.
Richland County police made the discovery after responding to a complaint on October 29th regarding a dispute between Paul Howard, 44, and a neighbor. The neighbor claimed that Howard had been stealing electricity.
Sheriff Leon Lott says that when the investigation led police into Howard’s home, they discovered the child and animals in “horrendous living conditions, with no regard for their health and well being,” according to The State. Howard and his wife Melanie, 44, were arrested and charged with unlawful neglect of a child and felony animal cruelty.
Paul Howard is also facing charges for theft of electric current.
As evidenced by photos released by the Richland County Sherrif’s Department, the animals had been forced to live off their own feces for “months or longer,” according to Huffington Post. One of the dogs, shown in a photo covered in excrement, had reportedly lost a limb and its vision due to the poor living conditions. The photos show trash piled up in rooms throughout the house, with one room in particular stuffed to the ceiling with loose clothing, boxes, mattresses and garbage.
All 11 dogs are in need of medical treatment, and have been taken in by local animal shelter Pawmetto Lifeline. Paul and Melanie Howard’s daughter has been placed in emergency protective custody.
Authorities are urging local residents to support the shelter in their care for the dogs by calling (803)-465-9193. The funds “will be used to offset the costs in caring for the dogs and to cover medical expenses along with boarding”, according to The State.
The couple is currently being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, SC.