RICHLAND CENTER (WKOW) -- The Richland County Sheriff's Department has seized dozens of animals into custody from an animal rescue facility in Cazenovia suspected of animal abuse.
According to the Dane County Humane Society, sheriff's deputies impounded the animals Tuesday from the Thyme and Sage Ranch and transferred custody to the Humane Society of the United States, working with the DCHS.
About 300 dogs were found on the property during the execution of a search warrant early Tuesday morning. Other animals on the property include horses, rabbits, chickens, goats, horses, sheep and llamas.
Officials immediately seized 12 dogs in need of care and took them to the Dane County Humane Society. Over 150 more dogs would follow.
Eric Sakach, senior law enforcement specialist with the Humane Society of the US, described "the conditions have ranged from severe skin conditions to some injuries that were pretty severe. A lot of animals that have been allowed to go without any grooming whatsoever for such a lengthy period of time that they're severely matted."
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals tells 27 News it is collecting evidence as part of a criminal investigation into the ranch.
Thyme and Sage Ranch contracts with Richland County to pick up stray dogs and small animals.
Right now, DCHS is providing emergency shelter for the animals involved and officials say they stand behind the investigation and plans to help as best they can. They are asking citizens for help, which can include donations of full sized bath towels or bundles of newspapers. Those can be dropped off at the shelter on Voges Road in Madison. Click here to link to the DCHS web site for more information.
Sheriff's deputies are guarding Thyme and Sage overnight, in order to preserve their search warrant. Animal health workers will be back in the morning to continue evaluating the animals at the ranch.
"There's a lot of animals out here and there's a lot of help and we're trying to evaluate each animal and make a determination if neglect's there and what needs to be done about those animals," explained Sheriff Darrell Berglin, Richland County.
The owner of the ranch, Jennifer Petkus, was not arrested on Tuesday. However, she is scheduled for a bail hearing at 1:15 on Wednesday afternoon.
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