Animal rescuers are trying to fathom how a Macon woman who volunteered with advocacy groups could have let 13 animals die inside her former home, which was littered with about a thousand beer cans.
The new owner of the house at 1070 North Pine Knoll Drive, who had just purchased the property at auction, found a dead dog inside the door Tuesday afternoon and called 911.
Bibb County sheriff’s deputies found a dozen other dog and cat carcasses and kennels inside the house and multiple beer cartons, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
“Ten dogs and three cats,” said Sonja Adams, interim director of Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare. “All the dogs were still in their kennels. It appears that they were there maybe for a couple of months.”
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Animal Welfare officers and sheriff’s investigators tracked down Catherine Lynn Smith at a Riverside Drive pub and arrested her on 13 counts of animal cruelty.
The 50-year-old Macon woman originally was held on a $74,100 bond, according to jail records, but a judge reduced her bond to $17,360 on Wednesday. By Wednesday night, Smith had posted bail and was out of jail.
The incident report stated Smith was known to officers because she used to work for animal welfare and local shelters.
Smith worked as a senior animal shelter attendant in the county animal shelter for just two months -- from Aug. 28 until Oct. 24, 2012, when she was fired during her six-month probationary period. The termination letter did not disclose the reason for her firing.
Animal advocate Lucia Carr, who serves on the animal welfare task force, said she was shocked and horrified by the incident.
“The hardest part is the visualization of these animals being left to die in a slow and painful way,” Carr said. “It’s going to rock the animal rescue community.”
Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Gonzalez said Smith told investigators she was still staying at the home and had slept there Monday night.
The stench of ammonia was so strong that the responding deputy felt light-headed and could not remain inside the house until it was ventilated, the report stated.
Carr said the incident underscores the importance of rescue groups making sure they are adopting animals to people who have the means to care for them.
“It’s a very emotional story to put out there and to get to the how and why this could happen,” she said.
Adams said she was not sure whether any of the deceased animals had come from the Macon-Bibb County shelter.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 877-68-CRIME.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.