GREEN LAKE, Wis. (WFRV) – More than 100 dogs are in need of a home after a Juneau Co. Golden Doodle breeding operation, Golden Barns, was shut down because it was not properly licensed.
“Right now our estimate is that we’re going to be looking at 100 dogs,” Green Lake Area Animal Shelter manager Janine Rubeck said. “If it was a hundred chihuahuas I could put six of them in a kennel, we could get them all at one. This is one hundred 50 to 70-pound dogs.”
The Green Lake Area Animal Shelter has been receiving 10 dogs from the property each week because its kennels can only hold 30 dogs, and it already had 20 filled.
“What we’re trying to do is to get other organizations to take one, take two, take one so we can spread the wealth as they say,” Rubeck said. “It’s a strain on everybody and all of our resources, but we get through it. It’s part of the job and you got to figure out how to get through it.”
The shelter then gets the dogs ready for a foster family or moves them to a neighboring shelter. Rubeck said that a lot more goes into it than just the daily duties of taking care of the dogs.
“Doing their intake paperwork, doing the vaccinating and heartworm testing, microchipping them, answering phone calls, answering emails, sending emails, answering messages, it’s a lot of that,” she said. “We’ll just keep doing that until we get them all off the property.”
As of right now, Leetta Marshall, the owner of Golden Barns, is not facing any charges. She did not have a license to breed dogs and neighbors in Oxford, WI had called to complain about the noise.
Law enforcement is allowing her to keep four dogs, as permitted by town ordinance, but the rest have to go.
“The county has a dog barking and howling ordinance and I have people about a quarter mile up the hill that have called in numerous complaints about the dogs barking,” Marshall said. “I’m not a puppy mill, none of the breedings (in the last 18 months) were intentional.”
Marshall claims that dogs are able to get over the fence separating male and female dogs, and can not afford to spay and neuter them.
“There are several males that know how to hike up a six-foot fence… that was my problem,” she said. “(Business) slowed down a year ago last November. And the pups that I had weren’t planned breedings, they were accidents. I haven’t had a planned breeding for over a year and a half. But accidents happen and as money wasn’t coming in, the cost of spaying and neutering was too high for me to get done.”
Marshall has been cooperating with authorities, and Rubeck said that that has allowed her shelter and others to take the time they need to get all of the dogs’ temporary placements sorted out.
“The general public usually thinks ‘Just throw her in jail, take all the dogs.’ That’s just not how these things happen,” she said. “We already have a lot of dogs. And this is every shelter in Wisconsin, is in crisis mode.”
Rubeck said that the dogs all appeared to be in physically good health, but if any were not, that is something that would cause charges to be brought forward. The biggest issue with them visually is their matted coats.
“If we see anything that’s actionable, criminally, absolutely we’ll pursue it. I haven’t seen it yet, but I don’t know, we haven’t seen all the dogs yet,” she said. “(Grooming takes) an hour, easily, each dog, and it’s just shearing sheep because it’s hair, it’ll grow back.”
Rubeck said that some of the dogs look like they have not been groomed in over a year, but Marshall said that is not true, although some have not been groomed in months, and that there is a reason why.
“That’s not true, not one of them have not been groomed this year except for the pups, which are seven months (old),” Marshall said. “I’ve had trouble with clipper blades and clippers all through August. The person that sharpens my blades had a grinder issue.”
Marshall said that even though they were dirty, her dogs were enjoying life.
“I kept them happy with 5-acre runs and a crick to play in. They didn’t care about their coats and they didn’t care that they were dirty,” she said. “I took care of them the best I could with the issues that I had to deal with.”
But Rubeck said that while the physical health of the dogs is good, their mental and behavioral health is just the opposite.
“(Most) are not really appropriate to place for adoption yet. For the most part, these dogs are traumatized, they’ve never seen any human beings except this one woman,” she said. “They have no idea how to deal with the real world. They’re not housetrained, they don’t know how to walk on a leash, they don’t know how to accept a pet on the head. They don’t really know what to do with that information, nobody really touched them that much.”
Rubeck said that it takes a lot of patience and small gains, but it is rewarding to watch the dogs make progress.
“I feel like we, as an organization, make a difference. Sometimes that difference is one pet at a time,” she said. “A hundred is a lot. A hundred big dogs is a lot. But my reaction is, ‘Okay, we got to do what we got to do.’”
She said that the dogs will be socialized to a point before they are ready to be adopted, but that adopters will also need to have patience for months as their dog adjusts to its new life.
Rubeck said that monetary donations are the best way to help the Green Lake Area Animal Shelter, as veterinarian bills are the greatest expense and that her shelter has other means to get supplies secondhand and cheaper than donors.
She also said that if you are looking to adopt a dog from the shelter, be patient as they are getting many adoption inquiries and applications at this time.