CALEDONIA — After a state inspector went inside Orphan Kanines two years ago, the smell and waste found there made her physically ill.
Her eyes started itching, her throat became irritated and she developed a migraine that lasted approximately five hours, according to her inspection report from May 2, 2012.
That inspection was two years before about 70 animals inside the 1922 Kremer Ave. shelter were seized due to conditions described as deplorable on May 29.
Lack of communication and follow-through appears to have allowed the shelter to fall off the radar and continue to operate with a village license, even after the state ordered that all animals be removed.
Information not passed on
In 2012, the state conducted an inspection of Orphan Kanines after the owner, Debra Gray, applied for a state dog seller and dog facility operator license. The year before, the state enacted new dog seller regulations that included
applying for a permit.
But when a state inspector went to check out Orphan Kanines, she found piles of feces and accumulated urine along with poor food and water conditions.
That is according to inspection reports for Orphan Kanines and related documents obtained through an open records request from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Information about violations were provided to the county’s humane officer, according to the state documents.
But village officials, police and Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete all said they were not informed about 2012 violations.
According to state law, if the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has reasonable grounds to believe a dog is being mistreated, the department must report that information to a humane officer, who is certified through the state, or law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the area where the dog is located.
Dr. Paul McGraw, the Wisconsin state veterinarian, who is a part of the department, said in the case of Orphan Kanines the information was passed on as required in the state statute. Then after the initial inspection in May, the state met with the owner in June about violations and then made an unannounced visit on July 6, 2012, according to state records.
McGraw said the inspector believed the owner was complying with the order to remove all dogs from the shelter.
“Gray stated that there were 12 dogs left on the property, but all were leaving today,” according to the July report.
At that point, McGraw said the humane officer had been informed and it was in the hands of local authorities.
Caledonia Police Lt. Gary Larsen said, in his opinion, it would be good if the state directly informed local officials along with a humane officer.
But McGraw said his department followed the law in informing authorities and if local authorities have a problem with a humane officer they need to appoint a new person.
Changes since then
Countryside Humane Society, where the county humane officer worked, has since ceased operation and, as of the beginning of 2013, the Wisconsin Humane Society took over the shelter.
Angela Speed, the Wisconsin Humane Society’s spokeswoman, said the former Countryside humane officer didn’t stay on with the Wisconsin Humane Society after the transition.
He and other former Countryside employees could not be found for comment.
Along with the Wisconsin Humane Society taking over responsibilities for sheltering animals in Racine County, local municipalities were directed to appoint their own humane officers to deal with animal problems.
Larsen said with the new system he believes it is much more likely authorities would be informed about animal problems because area police departments now have their own humane officers to deal with animal problems.
Violations in the May 2, 2012, Orphan Kanines inspection report:
* Enclosures had multiple piles of feces and urine accumulation.
* Ammonia levels made location unsafe to be in for more than five minutes.
* Dogs did not have a clean place to rest.
* Outdoor run areas were filled with aluminum cans and garbage.
* Food and water containers were in poor condition.
* Enclosures needed fencing repairs.
If you have a missing pet
The Wisconsin Humane Society is asking anyone missing a pet to look at photos online to see if they recognize any of the animals. If you recognize a pet, email email@example.com.
To see photos of all the seized animals, go to www.facebook.com/WiscHumane and click on “Animals seized from Orphan Kanines.”
To see more stories and photos from the Orphan Kanines seizure, go to www.journaltimes.com.