A Caledonia couple was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with child neglect, and 16 counts of animal mistreatment — intentional or negligent.

If convicted on all charges, they each face up to 153 years in prison and fines up to $170,000.

According to the complaint, officers responded to a report of family trouble at 8:14 p.m. March 4 at 4930 Mary Drew Drive.

The woman, who was crying at the time, told police “Don’t mind the house, it isn’t clean.” Police found 14 cats and two dogs “living in squalor.”

One dog named “Bandit,” a 16-year-old German Shepherd, could barely walk and was kept on a pad on the floor. The pad was changed daily by the woman’s husband. However, the dog had eaten his own matted down fur on his right side and was lying on the floor. Officers noted that the dog was unable to move and could barely hold his head up. The woman told the police that “Bandit” was brought inside the house “to die” two years ago by her husband.

Timber, however, appeared to be in good health. Still, the dogs hadn’t been to see a veterinarian for two years.

The woman also told police she had 14 cats. While many were roaming free in the home, they could not all be seen. Officers noted that the cats appeared to be “well-fed and in good health,” but the smell inside the home was “horrid” because the the odor of cat feces was quite strong, and the numerous cat litter boxes throughout the house were full. Cat hair was also on the kitchen counter, couches, curtains, stairs, food prep areas and dining areas; and there were dirty dishes in every room on the first floor.

Officers noted that while the home was cluttered it did not appear that the woman was hoarding personal property, but there was evidence that she was hoarding cats.

The officers told the woman that Bandit seemed to be suffering and should be put down, but she wanted the dog to be in the home until he died. She also didn’t want to surrender any of the cats.

After being ordered to clean up the house and take Bandit to the vet, officials with the Central Racine County Health Department also ordered the woman to clean the house and take care of the dog. While at the house, officials with the health department called the police because the woman was making suicidal statements and was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Officers spoke to the woman’s husband, who is currently in jail. He said he changed Bandit’s urinary pads three times a day and admitted that he hadn’t taken the dog to see a veterinarian.

Caledonia Police and officials with the Wisconsin Humane Society-Racine campus removed from the home the two dogs and the seven cats they could catch. The other seven cats are still there, so the humane society set out live traps in the house to catch them.

A 15-year old boy would have also lived in the home alone since his father is in jail on child abuse charges, and his mother was in the hospital. The boy, who had never been to a public school but said he was homeschooled, was taken into protective custody because he was left alone.

Both the man and the woman are being held on a $2,500 cash bond. A pre-trial conference has been set at 3:15 p.m. on April 3 at the Racine County Courthouse.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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