October 19, 2021

Married couple ID’d as suspects who threw 4 Chihuahuas over Sumter SPCA fence

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By Kayla Robins From The Sumter Item

The two surviving dogs

Woman has turned herself in, says they turned the dogs in because they escaped an enclosure on their property

A married couple has been identified as the suspects who are accused of throwing four Chihuahuas over the fence at the Sumter SPCA earlier this month, after which two died from being hit by vehicles.


Elizabeth Taylor Samuel, 56, of Queen Street in Sumter, turned herself in Wednesday morning, according to Adrienne Sarvis, public information officer at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. Samuel is charged with four counts of ill treatment of animals, first offense.

Surveillance video provided by the nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter reportedly shows Samuel and another suspect, identified as her husband, drive up to the gate of the business on South Guignard Drive in a sedan about 7:30 p.m. on March 2.

The video shows the two suspects exit the vehicle and at least one of the individuals hurling the dogs over the fence.

A warrant states Samuel admitted to law enforcement she assisted her husband in the incident, Sarvis said in a news release.

Samuel reportedly told law enforcement her husband plans to turn himself in early next week when he returns to Sumter from working out of town. More information about the man and possible charges will be released when he is taken into custody, Sarvis said.

The suspected woman said she and her husband decided to take the dogs to the SPCA because they reportedly escaped from an enclosure at their residence. She said the dogs were tossed over the fence when they realized the organization was closed for the night.

Two of the dogs died soon after they were thrown over the fence when they escaped from the fenced-in area and ran into the roadway.

Cindy Cook, executive director of the Sumter SPCA, said the two surviving dogs, one male and one female, will be available for adoption soon but are continuing to be treated this week for health issues. She said at the time of the incident they are between 2-5 years old.

The female is being treated for heart worms, a curable condition. The male is “coming around and doing much better. He was pretty shy and timid.”

The SPCA, the county’s only no-kill animal shelter, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Wednesday and Sunday to receive animals. Cook said previously that the process of leaving pets or other animals with the shelter is easy – simply go to the back door and give employees as much information as they can on the animal “so we can try to find the right home for them.”

There is a minimal charge to turn an animal in, she said, but most shelters do ask for a small fee.

“When they come in, they get vaccinated, they get de-wormed, they get checked for heart worms and they get spayed and neutered and placed for adoption,” Cook previously told The Sumter Item.

Investigators were notified by more than one person in the community who identified Samuel and her husband as the suspects involved in the incident, including an anonymous tip to The Sumter Item.

Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said he hopes this incident serves as a warning to others who may think of mistreating animals.

“People need to realize that they cannot treat animals any kind of way,” he said. “They sign up to take care of these animals when they get them, and they are in charge of the animals’ health until they are given another proper home.”

Dennis thanked those who gave tips to investigators.

According to the sheriff’s office, Samuel posted a $100 personal recognizance bond for each count later Wednesday.

For more on this story go to: https://www.theitem.com/stories/married-couple-idd-as-suspects-who-threw-4-chihuahuas-over-sumter-spca-fence,324605

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