Warrants: 14 cats removed from Marion County animal shelter were shot to death at landfill

    Hank Rogers, left, and Marion Richardson, right, who have been charged in connection with the killing of 14 cats from the Marion County animal shelter. (Marion County photos. WPDE background)

    The 14 cats removed from the Marion County Animal Shelter on September 7 were shot and killed at the Marion County Landfill, according to recently released arrest warrants from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

    Marion Richardson and Hank Rogers are charged with improper euthanasia or euthanasia article violation in connection with the killing of 14 cats from the Marion County animal shelter, according to officials with the Marion County Detention Center.

    At the time of the incident Richardson was the Marion County Code Enforcement Officer and Rogers was the county building code and inspections supervisor.

    The warrants say Richardson and Rogers picked up the cats, according to the animal shelter director, to be given to a farmer.

    Richardson and Rogers “then took the cats to the old Marion County Landfill located in Marion County, South Carolina where Marion D. Richardson shot and killed them. Furthermore, exigent circumstances did not exist to prevent extreme suffering of the cats or in which safety of people or other animal life was threatened or it was not considered necessary by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to eliminate or control the population of feral animals," the warrants said.

    Marion County Tim Harper called in SLED to investigate after the cats were found dead.

    Richardson and Rogers no longer work for Marion County.

    Richardson's attorney Rose Mary Parham released the following statement on behalf of her client on Wednesday:

    Marion thought he was doing his job. He was called by the animal shelter to pick up the cats and dispose of them. That is exactly what he did. Shooting a feral cat in the back of the head is actually a more humane a more humane way of killiing it, than using carbon monoxide. It is a wonder anyone would want to be a police officer when we not only fire them, but charge them with a crime for doing their job. Marion loves cats and actually has an indoor cat.

    A couple of animal right activists and volunteers at the shelter are upset at the charges against the men.

    They wanted stiffer charges, including 14 counts of animal cruelty and neglect.

    "And now it seems like it's just going to get shoved under the rug. And each of these cats had names personalities. They were supposed to be going to a home... They were loved. We were all up there crying," said one of the activists.

    A bond hearing was held Wednesday afternoon at the Marion County Detention Center and Magistrate Cheryl E. Graham set Richardson's bond at $24,000 and Rogers at $7,000.

    Graham approved our media request form to videotape the bond hearing, but the hearing was held without cameras being let inside the courtroom.

    Marion County Chief Magistrate Dan Barker released the following statement on the matter:

    Marion County Summary Court is an open court to the public and the media, upon proper request, as you did. And upon request, I will be happy to provide you with an audio recording of the hearing. I will court is transparent and in no way are we trying to hide anything.

    We will get that audio recording of the hearing in effort to learn more about the incident and continue to bring you updates.

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