City officials respond to Bennettsville Animal Shelter concerns after online post

BENNETTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Two sisters walked into the Bennettsville City Animal shelter this weekend in hopes of adopting a new pet, but found what they described as a sickening scene. The two women were upset about the conditions the animals were living in and posted photos to Facebook that have been shared hundreds of times since Sunday.

Jessica Kulas says the cats and dogs at the shelter had no food or water and were living in terrible conditions.

“We opened one of the doors and it was where the cat cages are,” Kulas recalled. “There were two little kitties right beside each other one was a orange tabby the other was a regular tabby.”

Kulas said she was sick after seeing the conditions.

“”The orange tabby had no water, I mean bone dry,” she recounted, the emotion clear in her voice. “The cat litter was full of feces and urine and it smelled and he was balled up in the corner poor little thing.”

News13 tracked down Bennettsville mayor Heath Harpe who says the building has been cleaned up since this weekend.  The mayor also says the city is now in talks with a contractor to repair some of the structural damage visible in the pictures.

“It’s an old cinder-block building,” Harpe said. “Everything has been cleaned up now like it’s supposed to be.”

One photo depicted a freezer full of plastic bags, which had some wondering if the shelter was still gassing animals.

Officials say the shelter does have a gas chamber on the property, but the mayor insists it has not been used.

“We’re gonna tear out that old gas chamber,” Harpe promised. “I know it’s not been used, I mean it has spiderwebs all in it.”

Bennettsville received a $5,000 grant from the US Humane Society in 2013 to get rid of the gas chamber, and Mayor Harpe says they plan to renovate the shelter and tear out the old gas chamber.

Harpe did say that animal control uses the shelter freezer to store animals found dead in the city, which are then disposed of at a DHEC- certified facility.

The city does have one animal control officer, but Harpe said he isn’t sure who was supposed to be working the shelter on Saturday when Kulas and her sister arrived.