Woman indicted on 39 counts of animal cruelty after 133 animals were removed from property


An Effingham woman was indicted this week on animal cruelty charges after puppies were removed from a large-scale commercial breeder.

Florence County Environmental Services Director Herbie Christmas says 70-year-old Donna Keller Lee was indicted this week on 39 counts of animal cruelty. 37 of these are felony charges.

Lee was booked into the Florence County Detention Center around 2 p.m. on Tuesday and released on a $15,000 bond around 2:30 p.m., according to detention center booking records.

In November, Florence County Environmental Services worked with Michelle Reid, an animal cruelty consultant and animal forensics expert, and Valiant Animal Rescue team members to remove 133 animals from Lee’s property in Florence County.

According to Reid, the animals had medical issues including intestinal parasites, infections, and ringworm when seized from the property. Some of the animals are still being treated for issues like dental disease and heartworms under Valiant’s care, while the rest of the animals are now in forever adoptive homes.  

All of the animals removed from the property were taken to rescues in the Charleston area, Christmas says.

Christmas doesn’t know when the case will go to trial. 

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