The head of an animal rescue shelter, Caroline Dawn Pennington, was arrested after decomposing carcasses of at least 30 dogs and cats were found at her house in Columbia, South Carolina.

The 47-year-old woman was a well-known figure in the animal rescue community and ran a non-profit animal rescue group called GROWL. The police received a complaint last Friday from someone saying that a "smell of death," was coming from her house.

The police rushed to the house and found the decomposing bodies of 28 dogs and two cats in cages and crates in her house. The officers "found a disturbing and extreme case of animal cruelty," per a statement by the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

The animals had been dead for a significant amount of time and appeared to have died of starvation and dehydration, added the release. The authorities removed the carcasses with the help of locals.

"It's appalling and it's heart-breaking," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "This is someone who was entrusted by the community to care for these animals and find them homes. She betrayed that trust and she betrayed the trust of these innocent animals who relied on her."

Pennington has been booked at the Alvin S Glenn Detention Centre and charged with 30 counts of ill treatment of animals. Meanwhile, the animal shelter that Pennington used to work for has said that the woman is no longer associated with them.

According to a report in Global News, the house was in a state of disrepair and its floor and cabinets were covered in faecal matter when the police arrived. There were cats and dogs everywhere and some were unrecognisable.

In another case reported from Georgia in April this year, more than 60 dogs were rescued from a property by the Atlanta Humane Society (AHS) who claimed that the owner found himself "overwhelmed," with so many animals to look after.

In another case of animal cruelty reported from Florida last week, a 25-year-old woman was arrested for the deaths of her four dogs after she left them alone in a car to eat lunch at a restaurant.

The woman had left the car running with the air conditioning on and the windows up which reportedly led to the deaths of her four pet dogs.

Representative image by Bernhard Stärck from Pixabay