Wisconsin Animal Seizure

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Helping Pets in Suspected Animal Cruelty Case

On May 19, 2009, an American Humane Association Red Star Animal Emergency Services team began work in Cazenovia, Wis., where a local animal sanctuary housing hundreds of dogs, horses and other animals is being investigated for possible animal cruelty.

We partnered with multiple other local and national organizations -- including the District Attorney of Richland County, the Dane County Humane Society, the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society, PetSmart Charities’ Emergency Relief Waggin’®, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Humane Society of the United States and United Animal Nations -- to safely remove the pets from the premises.


June 1, 2009

American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Rescue team has completed its work relocating animals from a property in Cazenovia, Wis., where animal cruelty allegedly occurred.

Approximately 300 dogs, in addition to an assortment of rabbits, birds, horses, chinchillas, a ferret, and others, were removed from the property during a seizure on May 19 and 20. Most of the animals had been housed in unhealthy and inhumane conditions, and dead animals were discovered on-site.

The majority of the animals have been legally relinquished by the owner, and are being re-homed in humane societies and rescue organizations across Wisconsin. They will eventually be available for adoption. Others are being safely held as evidence. Ten were returned to the owner, but will be checked daily by a Richland County deputy and weekly by a veterinarian.

The Thyme and Sage Ranch -- where the animals were seized -- is described on its website as “primarily a rescue sanctuary.” The founder of Thyme and Sage recently pled not guilty to 11 misdemeanor and five forfeiture charges in an animal cruelty hearing. The case is ongoing.



Updated Reports From the Scene

American Humane Association’s Animal Emergency Services program manager, Tracy Reis, filed reports from the scene.

Wednesday, May 20

The Red Star team had another early start today, and we finished handling and processing all of the animals! By rough count, around 360 dogs, puppies, horses, chickens and rabbits have been rescued in the past two days. We worked very hard today -- at one point we had to slow down so the veterinarians could catch up with the medical evaluations!

The team finished our work at the first site, rescuing another 60 animals on top of the 100 rescued yesterday. Then we moved on to the second site, where we assisted with the rescue of roughly another 200 animals. As expected, the second site did have many, many puppies -- some with mama dogs, some without.

The weather held but it was hot -- in the 80s -- and the team spent much of the day dressed in Tyvek and latex gloves. If you've never had to endure hot temperatures dressed in this one-piece plastic-fiber garb you haven't lived. It is like walking around in a mobile sauna, and when we take the Tyvek off, we are drenched. We constantly check to make sure everyone is drinking enough water and getting cooled off when they can. The safety of both our team and the animals is a priority for us.

We had one little puppy who started crashing on us -- hot and stressed, he looked like he was failing fast! He was rushed to the veterinarians, who immediately pushed fluids and got a bit of Karo syrup into him. Last time we checked the little guy was doing great! What a relief to all of us!

We've worked so hard to rescue these guys that the thought of losing even one of them is unbearable.

We know that over the next few days we will see the miracle of transformation that always reminds us of why this work is worthwhile. Matted, filthy dogs will be groomed and bathed. Dogs that are used to living and sleeping in their own filth will be walked and cleaned up after -- and will go to sleep in clean, dry, warm housing. And the many volunteers from HSUS and United Animal Nations, as well as our own American Humane Association team, will be there to do this work, caring for souls who haven’t had much care in their short lives. Together, over the next few days, we will work toward the best outcome for each and every one of them. But tonight we are all headed to bed for some badly needed rest.

Tuesday, May 19

The seizure began at 6:00 a.m. this morning. My Red Star team and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) team were on site to begin the process of finding the animals, removing them from conditions that we found to be very bad, processing them and ensuring that there is documentation for each animal removed. Then each animal (this morning we are focusing on dogs, and lots of them) is checked by a vet, processed and then given back to us for loading and transport to the emergency shelter where the dogs will all be kept in the near future.

Today we rescued, loaded and transported 100 dogs! These poor guys! We found them in conditions that, sadly, are typical of what we find at many hoarding sites or at puppy mills. They are dirty, covered with feces and matted. Several of them obviously have mange. Their enclosures are filthy. I never cease to be appalled by the conditions we see on these types of responses.

The variety of breeds we are seeing is large. Today we rescued poodles, Labradoodles or goldendoodles, Irish wolfhounds, cattle dogs, English sheepdogs, bully breeds and a lone St. Bernard -- who insists on licking us to death and just wants to be a lap dog. We think we also have some Lhasa apsos, but we honestly won’t be sure until we can get some of the filthy matted hair clumps off these poor little guys to see what they really are underneath it all!

There are also many, many horses here -- some were moved off site because they needed extra attention and vet care. The others will remain here for further evaluation.

We also found out today that we are working at one of two different sites that we will be rescuing dogs from. We expect to finish at the first site tomorrow and move on to the second one, where we are told there are many breeding mommas and litters of puppies. So, late tomorrow and Thursday will likely be puppy rescue days for us.

Thankfully, the weather today was great -- not like some responses we’ve been on where we’ve had to deal with rain, tornadoes and howling winds. We are grateful for the good weather as we are working 12 hour days. It’s a plus for both the responders and the animals we are helping.

I know many of you following this blog have sent emails to us at Red Star thanking and encouraging us for our work here. Can I just say how much your support means to all of us on the Red Star team? I’ll catch you all up on tomorrow’s details in my next post.

Monday, May 18

The Red Star Team arrived safely. I’m glad to have everyone here. Our volunteers come in from all over the country to do this work when we call them. And I am always concerned about their safety as they travel to wherever we have been called to help. I always breathe a little easier when they are all here and I can sit down with them and see their determined faces. As always they are a little tense -- we don’t know what to expect on a response like this -- but they are ready to go no matter what. This team, both the Animal Emergency Services staff from American Humane and the Red Star volunteers, are highly trained for this kind of response.

Tonight we will all try to get a good night’s sleep as we have been briefed that we will start very early tomorrow morning.  Everybody will have to be up and ready at about 4:00 a.m!

As we head off to bed we know that there may be up to 300 dogs to be rescued over the next few days.

The Week of May 11

Late last week we were asked to participate in a possible rescue of animals from a location in Wisconsin where the County District Attorney is planning to conduct a legal seizure. After being briefed on the situation and the work that will need to be done to rescue these animals, we were happy to say, “Yes, we’ll be there!”

There are apparently hundreds of dogs at this location and possibly many other animals as well. We will join our good friends at The ASPCA in working with law enforcement to support the seizure efforts, rescue these animals from the allegedly cruel conditions they are living in and hopefully assure that their future is better than their present existence.

In situations like this we take a team of American Humane Association staff as well as a cadre of our most skilled Red Star volunteers.  The team of eight people who will go on this response has expert-level skills in animal handling for both dogs and horses, as well as a solid education in how to preserve what might be a potential crime scene and evidence. They have all done this type of work before, and I am always grateful that they are willing to commit their personal time and passion to their training and to responses such as this. I marvel at how many times they have ended up being the lifeline for some little sweetheart of a dog who has spent her entire life in a crate, literally never seeing the sun, literally never feeling grass under her feet, literally never breathing fresh air.

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