MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The dog seized by police Saturday in an animal cruelty case is already “full of life and happiness,” according Grand Strand Humane Society Executive Director, Jessica Wnuk.
The 15-week-old puppy is now named Sarah. She was renamed by the humane society’s staff after Sarah McLachlan, whose song is featured on ASPCA commercials.
She’s been in the care of the humane society after police arrested her owners at the Hilton Ocean Enclave hotel Saturday.
Dillon Lark is charged with animal cruelty and public intoxication after reportedly kicking Sarah into the hotel’s pool and watching her nearly drown.
“When we first got her into the shelter, she was just terrified of everybody of course after what she had just been through,” Wnuk said. “(Now) she has a great appetite and she has learned that she loves to play with toys.”
Wnuk says the humane society is seeing more cases like Sarah’s.
“We see an increase in cruelty cases every year this time of year,” Wnuk said. “The number of intakes we’ve gotten this year has been far higher than any year in the past.”
So far in 2019, the Grand Strand Humane Society has taken in 1562 animals.
That’s over 400 more than during the same period last year.
Wnuk is concerned that the state’s laws don’t provide enough protection for animals.
“The penalties for animal abusers here in South Carolina are nowhere near severe enough,” she said.
In South Carolina, a felony animal cruelty offense comes with a maximum of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Meanwhile, a misdemeanor offense carries a maximum sentence of 90 days behind bars and a $1,000 fine.
“They need higher fines when they neglect and abuse these animals,” Wnuk said. “Because unfortunately, if the penalties aren’t severe enough, there’s nothing from stopping them from doing it again.”
There are already dozens of people offering to give Sarah a new home.
But before she is put up for adoption, Lark and White still have to appear in court. That’s where a judge will decide whether GSHS will maintain full custody of Sarah. If custody is granted, the humane society will post her for adoption.
No word yet on when they are expected to appear.