Case Snapshot
Case ID: 14796
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Person(s) in animal care
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Attorneys/Judges
Defense(s): Christopher Froelich


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Friday, Aug 22, 2008

County: Door

Charges: Misdemeanor, Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Rory Walter

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

Door County officials were waiting for a detailed report from a state humane officer as they began removing animals this week from a shelter outside Baileys Harbor.

Acting on an assessment from the state official, Door County sheriff's deputies removed four animals Tuesday from All Creatures Home for Animals to be euthanized. They returned Wednesday to remove eight more animals for placement at another location, according to Door County Sheriff Terry Vogel.

The actions were taken after the sheriff called state humane officer Dr. Yvonne Bellay, a state humane officer, was called Aug. 22 to investigate complaints of possible abuse or neglect at the private animal shelter.

The state agency has "the experts," Vogel said.

"We wanted to let them take a look and determine what was going on in there," Vogel said.

Vogel's call was triggered by complaints from passersby about horses running loose from the shelter onto Wisconsin 57 between Jacksonport and Baileys Harbor. Conditions inside the shelter prompted Yvonne Haberli, a southern Door County woman who helped round up the strays, to call the Door County Sheriff's Department.

Bellay did an on-site investigation of All Creatures, the shelter run by Rory Walter for the last 20 years. Bellay, a Madison veterinarian, trains law enforcement officers to investigate animal cruelty complaints for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

During the inspection, Bellay was accompanied by Erin Carter, state animal health inspector, and officers from the Door County Sheriff's Department.

"Bellay has no legal authority to remove animals," said Donna Gilson, a spokesperson for Bellay. "It is up to local law enforcement to alleviate conditions."

It will be at least 10 days before Bellay's written recommendations are sent to Vogel.

Vogel confirmed Thursday that two donkeys, one llama and one dog were euthanized, and four llamas and four alpacas were moved to a local farm.

Door County Humane Society shelter director Carrie Counihan said the shelter was on standby to help but had not initiated any action.

Gilson said animal shelters do not need to be licensed, and there are no standards.

"Humane treatment laws are very vague," Gilson said. "It may say adequate food and water but there is no definition of what that is. Cases like this are notoriously hard to prosecute."

This was the first time Bellay was called to All Creatures, and no prior state investigations were on file. Her office, however, was aware of past complaints, Gilson said.

A 2004 investigation by Door County officials did not result in any criminal charges and animals were not euthanized. Walter was asked to comply with county code violations, but no penalties or fines resulted.


Case Updates

A judge has sentenced a Door County woman to three years of probation for animal neglect. The Humane Society took more than sixty animals from Rory Walter's property. They had to euthanize some of them last summer. Walter has also been ordered to pay a $600 fine and get counseling for animal hoarding.
Source: NBC 26 - June 5, 2009
Update posted on Jun 7, 2009 - 8:33PM 
A Door County woman charged with animal neglect says she's not guilty. Rory Walter entered that plea in a Sturgeon Bay courtroom today. The Humane Society took more than 60 animals from her property and had to put down some of them last summer.
Source: NBC 26 - Jan 9, 2009
Update posted on Jan 11, 2009 - 2:56AM 
Green Bay police issued a mistreatment of animals citation to a Baileys Harbor woman already facing criminal charges in Door County for neglecting animals at her animal shelter.

Police cited Rory Walter, 57, for locking two dogs in a car outside of Motel 6, 1614 Shawano Ave. on Sept. 27. The ticket carries a $361 fine.

A Green Bay animal control intern found two dogs in Walter's car and called a police officer to help. The temperature in the car was 109 degrees, said Green Bay police animal control officer Sharon Hensen.

The intern initially seized the dogs but later returned them at Walter's request, Hensen said.

Walter has a Nov. 7 court date if she decides to contest the citation.

Walter made an initial appearance in Door County court Monday where she faces seven felonies and eight misdemeanors from alleged mistreatment of animals at her 20-acre All Creatures Home for Animals shelter. As a condition of bond set at Monday's hearing, Walter is ordered to care for no animals. She is due back in court Nov. 20.

If convicted on all 15 criminal charges, Walter faces up to 30 years in prison.
Source: Pet-Abuse.Com Case #14797
Update posted on Oct 29, 2008 - 10:41PM 
A challenge to the seizure of more than 100 animals from a Baileys Harbor animal shelter was dropped Wednesday after Door County officials came to an agreement with the shelter owner.

The resolution to the civil dispute came in a stipulation signed by Rory Walter, 57, owner of All Creatures Home for Animals.

The agreement, negotiated by her lawyer, Christopher Froelich of Green Bay, and Door County Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas, was approved in a 40-minute hearing in front of Circuit Judge D. Todd Ehlers.

The effect of the agreement, Thomas said after the hearing, was to remove the civil dispute from potentially conflicting with criminal charges pending against Walter.

The initial criminal hearing, scheduled for Oct. 27, describes seven felony counts and eight misdemeanor counts of mistreating and neglecting animals and failing to provide proper food, water and medical care for the animals at her 20-acre facility.

Walter "cares deeply about these animals," Froelich told Ehlers. "At one point, it became too much; it was overwhelming."

After making sure Walter agreed with the details, Ehlers endorsed the stipulation and advised the lawyers he would follow up in 60 days to make sure all the conditions had been met.

In court, Walter agreed that Door County may consider all the animals seized from her shelter in September as "unclaimed animals" under appropriate state law.

The agreement allows the county to dispose of the animals -- by adopting them out through humane shelters where they are now housed - without objection from Walter.

Walter will not have a role in the adoption of the animals, but she may be told where each animal is placed.

If euthanasia is required, Walter may obtain a second opinion from a veterinarian before the animal is put down, according to the agreement.

The agreement also gives Walter the right to select up to 10 of the seized dogs.

The chosen dogs will remain in county custody until the resolution of the criminal case against her, Thomas said.

After the criminal case, he explained, Walter may reimburse the county for the costs it incurred for the dogs' care, custody and treatment since their seizure Sept. 3.

She also must pay any costs incurred from the Oct. 15 agreement until she can claim the dogs.

"The county is not giving her any animals," Thomas said.

The number, based on a request from Walter, "basically is the cornerstone of the deal for her," he said.

For Walter to obtain custody of the 10 dogs, Thomas said, she will have to prevail in the criminal case and be able to pay the costs of caring for the dogs.

Thomas estimated it could cost about $3,000 to settle the bill for housing, food and care.

The county reserves its right to seek restitution from Walter for costs incurred for the care of all the animals since the seizure, Thomas said.

The restitution could be resolved through the criminal case or by the filing of a separate petition, he added.

As part of the stipulation, Walter agreed to withdraw a counterclaim she filed to secure the return of all the animals seized from her property.

Door County sheriff's deputies, working with state and county humane officers, removed 30 dogs, 18 donkeys, three ponies, two horses, three goats, four sheep and one cow in a Sept. 3 operation.

The seizure resulted from a series of complaints lodged through August about animals escaping from the shelter and obstructing traffic on Wisconsin 57.

Citizens who helped return the animals made complaints after observing conditions of neglected, mistreated and ailing animals at the shelter.

In an Aug. 27 visit to the shelter, humane officers recommended, and obtained Walter's permission, the euthanasia of four animals that were too ill or injured to be removed.

The lack of care that forced the state to put down the animals became the basis for the most serious felony accusations made in a criminal complaint filed Sept. 26.
Source: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune - Oct 18, 2008
Update posted on Oct 29, 2008 - 10:36PM 
The Baileys Harbor private animal shelter, All Creatures Home for Animals, was temporarily shut down Wednesday, Sept. 3, by the county's corporation counsel.

By filing a petition in Door County Circuit Court Wednesday, Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas gave the OK to the Door County Sheriff's Department to remove both owner Rory Walter and her animals from the 23-acre Baileys Harbor site.

"Walter is not capable of providing for the adequate care and treatment of the animals taken in to custody," according to the petition. It noted Walter's "failure, inability or refusal" to provide adequate food, water and shelter to the 119 animals in her care.

Horses were being loaded onto trailers, and officers could be seen stuffing items into black bags early Wednesday afternoon at Walter's All Creatures Home for Animals on Wisconsin 57 at All Creatures Lane.

Officials were on site until midnight Wednesday.

Sheriff Terry Vogel confirmed some animals had to be euthanized. Vogel also confirmed that Dr. Deb Johnson, county humane officer, was overseeing activities that day.

Johnson was not present when a state humane officer, Dr. Yvonne Bellay, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, was called in by the Door County Sheriff's Department to make an assessment Aug. 26.

She was called after several reports of animals on the loose were made to the sheriff's department on Aug. 18.

Bellay, who educates local humane officers in cases of abuse and neglect, has no enforcement authority. Her recommendations, along with assessments of other professionals, and a debriefing that day, led to the removal of four llamas, four alpacas and the euthanizing of two donkeys, one llama and one dog on Aug. 28.

According to her office, Bellay's written recommendations were being e-mailed to both the sheriff's department and corporation counsel Sept. 4.

Rory Walter and a woman who identified herself as her sister had no comment.

The Door County Humane Society was called to assist, Thomas said. Both the DCHS and Vogel referred calls to Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas.

"This is a dynamic and unique situation," Thomas said in an e-mail. He also said the investigation is ongoing.

Other resources such as large animal veterinarians, the Wisconsin Federated Humane Society and other placement facilities may be called if needed, he said.

The petition authorizes the sale, euthanization or other disposition of the animals taken into custody by the county; however, Thomas could not say where the animals will be held, but all are currently being evaluated and cared for, he said.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Baileys Harbor fire department brought water, and DCHS was called in to temporarily care for the animals.

The petition also establishes bond or payment from Walter for the custody, care and treatment of the animals that were in her care.

Walter, who has run the facility for more than 20 years, will not be allowed to live on the premises until she "takes necessary action to abate violations of the applicable private sewage system code and statute and/or zoning ordinance ordered by the sanitarian and/or zoning administrator," the petition states.

Thomas said the issues of private on-site wastewater treatment system, zoning and human health issues likely will be addressed in separate proceedings.

"These issues are under consideration, and a final decision has not been made as to how the county will proceed," Thomas said.

The animals likely will remain in custody and continue to be withheld from Walter and any other owner for the foreseeable future, according to the court order.
Source: Marshfield News Herald - Sept 6, 2008
Update posted on Oct 29, 2008 - 10:34PM 

References


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