The woman at the center of an animal hoarding case in Caledonia has been ordered to surrender all of her animals to the Wisconsin Humane Society and to vacate her home will her case is open.

Susan Schmidtke, 68, was in court Tuesday for her initial appearance on charges that she was keeping a variety of species in inadequate conditions, including living in the same pen as dead animals. At her appearance Tuesday, Schmidtke was officially charged with:

  • Two felony counts of mistreatment of animals
  • Three misdemeanor counts of failure to provide proper outdoor shelter for animals
  • Two misdemeanor counts of intentionally mistreating animals
  • Two misdemeanor counts of failure to provide proper food and drink to confined animals
  • One misdemeanor count of failure to provide proper animal shelter sanitation standards

If convicted, she faces up to 13 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.

According to her criminal complaint, Caledonia police were dispatched Oct. 13 to a farm in the 7800 block of 6-Mile Road for a report of animal neglect. A witness said they were concerned about the conditions in which fourteen horses, three donkeys, two emus, numerous turkeys, ducks, swans, guinea pigs, cats and birds – as well as Schmidtke – were living and felt Schmidtke was overwhelmed with carrying for so many animals.

Officers returned on Oct. 16 with a search warrant, and they seized 24 of the small animals with the assistance of the Wisconsin Humane Society. A number of animals remained on the property and were being monitored by Caledonia police and the Namaste Equine Rescue, but according to the court’s order Tuesday, those animals must also be removed.

Outside the courtroom, Schmidtke told The Journal Times that she was boarding some animals for other people and that they were all healthy.

Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch ordered Schmidtke out of her home because, she said, “That’s the site of a crime,” the story continues.

Schmidtke will next be in court Dec. 2 for her preliminary hearing.