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Animal Massacre: The Chesterfield 22

Updated on November 4, 2011

If this headline concerned people being murdered, public outrage would’ve swept across the nation. But as it only involved 22 dogs and puppies being shot to death in Chesterfield County, SC, it could very well have gone unnoticed. Such was the case which came to be known as The Chesterfield 22.

The story came to light in March of 2011 after shelter volunteer Deborah Farhi saw a lot of empty cages at the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter and inquired as to where all the dogs were. She was informed they had been shot and killed at a landfill across the street from the shelter. The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control had long before prohibited animal bodies to be dumped there.

Farhi and two other members of the Paws & Claws Animal Rescue Group investigated and dug up two small puppies buried in a shallow grave. Both had been shot to death…fresh blood still visible on their lifeless bodies. Pictures were taken and sent to other rescue groups, including Facebook creating an immediate backlash.

The shelter is the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Department. Not too long ago the same shelter came under investigation for using a faulty gas chamber for mass euthanasia. The chamber leaked gas causing the animals to die slow, agonizing deaths. Finally, public attention and the fact it failed inspection, forced them to trash it.

Further investigation into the deaths of the animals confirmed they were indeed being taken and dumped at the landfill in plastic bags. When questioned by News Channel 36 an animal control spokesperson said “…their employees have done nothing wrong.” There had also been allegations of some canines being kept for illegal dog fighting.

In a written statement, the sheriff’s office said until the investigation is complete, “it is unclear if the allegations are an administrative policy violation or possible criminal charge.” And weeks after the shocking crimes were committed no arrests had been made, no criminal charges filed and those accused were on paid administrative leave. Sheriff Sam Parker, who has overseen the shelter for over 20 years, conducted the investigation. Kind of like the fox guarding the chicken coop some might say.

However, because of public outcries, Governor Nikki Haley asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to takeover and turn their findings over to the Attorney General’s office.

The investigation was “complete” March 31st. None of the key witnesses, including Farhi, were ever interviewed, nor were reports of dog fighting ever investigated. SLED didn’t appear to have conducted a very thorough investigation, at least that’s what the Attorney General’s Office appeared to think. They requested the case to be reopened. So far, nothing seems to have resulted from the action.

What has happened since though, has not built any confidence in the system. The Paws and Claws, volunteers who have faithfully worked at the shelter for over 15 years, were told their services were no longer required. And according to some sources, animals are not being vaccinated or fixed.

Initial reports stated only 8 dogs were scheduled to be put down on the day in question. Animal activists claim 22 dogs and puppies were massacred. Although it is legal to shoot a dog in South Carolina, it can only be done in an emergency such as a rabid dog attack. Activists claim the Chesterfield 22 were shot for no such reason.

To watch a video on this issue visit:


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Glad to do it SanneL

      Paradise, they didn't have to shoot them, they could have done it legally and painlessly.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      It is a terrible thing. But if they don't have the facilities to keep indefinitely ALL the unwanted dogs and cats, some must be disposed of. Blame it on the people who don't neuter their pet animals.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      This is just heartbreaking!

      So much cruelty in this world. I have experienced this myself many times, not being able to save the lives of the dogs and cats. However, with poison and broken glass inside the food.

      I'm just so grateful for such compassionate and caring people like yourself. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I agree ya'll. Although it had been reported in the media, I felt the case needed a little more exposure since apparently the "good ole boy" network was in full swing.

    • Clucy profile image

      Kristin Tamke 6 years ago from Frederick, MD

      Just made me sick reading this. the public has to keep up the heat and make them accountable. How someone could look at a dog and then shoot it is beyond me. Very disturbing to say the least.....

    • nemanjaboskov profile image

      Nemanja Boškov 6 years ago from Serbia

      John, I really applaud your efforts to make as many people as possible aware of acts like this! I hope someone will eventually have enough will and power to fight people like Sam Parker and alike...

      Well done!

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Stories like this are so painful...especially to passionate animal lovers like me...that I can hardly stand to hear about it. But it's necessary to make the public aware to prevent such cruelty. Thanks for taking the time to care. Voted up and useful.