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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue


340 dogs found 'suffering' in makeshift kennels

About 340 dogs, who were crammed into small feces-covered cages being kept in unheated makeshift outdoor structures, have been rescued from an animal rehabilitation sanitary in Wisconsin.

The dogs - many suffering from severe fur matting, dental disease, skin infections and untreated lacerations - are mostly Old English Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Yorkies and Chihuahuas, according to Jordan Crump, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States.

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"The dogs were kept in small cages - often crowded with several dogs," Ms. Crump told Love of Dogs. "Some were standing in their own waste. Many of the larger dogs had no room to properly stretch out or walk around in their enclosures."

Rescue workers also removed rabbits, exotic birds, horses and ferrets from the Thyme and Sage Ranch in Cazenovia outside of Madison. Many of the dogs, (photos at left provided by the HSUS), had no food and water bowls filled with only hay and were placed into small makeshift outdoor kennels with little room to move around.

According to its web site, Thyme and Sage Ranch provides re-homing or rehabilitation to neglected and abandoned animals. Some dogs and cats are available for adoption, but the ranch primarily operates as a rescue sanctuary.

The Richland County sheriff's department conducted the raid after being contacted by HSUS, which had received numerous complaints about the conditions at Thyme and Sage Ranch. The Dane County Humane Society, American Humane Association, United Animal Nations and Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies were also involved in the bust.

PetSmart Charities has donated wire crates, dog food and medical supplies to help the dogs. "Seeing animals subjected to this level of neglect is truly heartbreaking," PetSmart Charities Executive Director Susana Della Maddalena states in a media release.

Jennifer Petkus, owner of Thyme and Sage Ranch, has been charged with 10 counts of intentional mistreatment of an animal, five counts of improper disposal of a carcass and one count of intentional improper animal shelter sanitation, according to HSUS.

"By pursuing charges in this disturbing case, Richland County is sending the message that these types of cases will be taken very seriously here in Wisconsin," HSUS Wisconsin state director Alyson Bodai states in a media release. "It is gratifying to know that the nearly 400 animals rescued from the Thyme and Sage Ranch will suffer no more."

The dogs, being kept and receiving medical treatment at an emergency shelter that has been set up at Dane County Humane Society, are beginning to calm down, Ms. Crump said. "Most are obviously lacking socialization - but many tails are already beginning to wag."

Animal welfare workers are hopeful that the dogs can be rehabiliated and eventually placed into homes, Ms. Crump said. "We have identified many rescue organizations and foster homes well equipped to rehab these neglected animals. While some will need extensive medical care, many will begin to come around with some human affection and proper diet."

Medical care and rehabilitation will be expensive, Ms. Crump said. "This varies by dog - some of the vet bills will be thousands of dollars and some animals will just need love and attention."

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The Dane County Humane Society needs towels and newspapers as well as cash donations to help care for the animals. Those wishing to help the animals should visit www.giveshelter.org.

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