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Prominent Anderson County animal advocate charged with ill treatment of animals

Julianne Wesstberry
Anderson County Detention Center

This is a sad day in the animal rescue world, where one very active in saving the unwanted dogs and cats of upstate South Carolina has been charged with ill treatment of animals. Fox Carolina reported the story June 19.

Julianne Westberry, 46, of Belton was arrested after Belton police responded to a home on Anderson Street on June 18 about a bad smell coming from the house.

Chief Tommy Clamp Jr. said officers were sent to investigate the tip. Officials from the Fire Department and Belton Police found numerous deceased cats in various stages of decomposition. A large number of live cats were also found, and taken to Anderson County P.A.W.S.

The Anderson shelter has confirmed to Fox Carolina that they received many cat in bad shape from the home.

A source, who asked not to be identified, said more than 30 dead cats were found in the home. Around 30 live cats were removed. A few cats died enroute to the shelter. The number isn't exact, but it does show how serious this situation is.

Clamp said more charges may be filed after their investigation is complete.

This news has rocked those in rescue in upstate South Carolina. I’ve never met Julianne personally, but we’ve worked together to get dying dogs out of difficult situations. Especially during the cold snap at the beginning of the year when people left their animals outside with no shelter.

Julianne is active on the area Facebook pages, where she’s taken in cats no one else wanted. Some of these cats were saved by Julianne on the day they were to be euthanized.

After learning this news, I contacted several in the rescue community, who are also in shock. A few admitted to going to her home, one as recently as May 2014. The home was nice and clean and the cats were in excellent condition.

This just goes to show how quickly someone in rescue can get into trouble. It’s hard to say "no" to taking in more rescued animals than can be comfortably handled.

This story will be updated as more information comes in. Please keep those in rescue in your thoughts, as they scramble to learn whether cats they personally helped reach Julianne are alive or dead.

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