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ANIMAL HOARDING IN WAUPACA

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Over 100 Animals Seized in Waupaca, Wisc

Animal abuse is a tragedy by any standards. Animal abuse that is allowed to continue because a legal case has been mishandled, is even more egregious.

Why should you care? Because it is wrong. And if you live in Waupaca, it is your tax dollars paying for the prosecution, cleanup, and even funding defense lawyers.

It is vital that enforceable bond conditions preventing further accumulation of animals, many of whom may again be confiscated, are put in place now. IF this does not end, the people who so graciously stepped in to clean up the mess will be doing so again at great personal cost.

Who:

An inspection on 12/14/05 revealed that they had acquired an additional 73 animals.

If you have helped fund the Baraboo rescue (involving over 100 guinea pigs), you already care what happens. It is only by voicing your opinion that you will be heard.

Monica writes: "Encourage the Judge to get tough with them and alter the Bond stipulations- specifically to not let them have ANY animals." She notes that they misrepresented the number of animals they had when Bond was initially set, and their public defenders keep requesting more animals be allowed.

How you can help:

And write today!

If you wish the letter you send to be included on this page, please e-mail me at:
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Find details of this case provided by Monica Gates on a page she is maintaining for the public: http://waupacapets.com/niemuths.htm

See also Waupaca UPDATES on this site.


THE PUBLIC AND PEOPLE INVOLVED SPEAK OUT

Waupaca County Case Number 2005CM000517 Court Record Events

Monica Gates writes:

To the Editor:

I would like to give the community an update on the "Niemuth Seizure" situation as I see it. As most people will likely recall, this is in reference to the over 500 animals that were confiscated from a Town of Royalton home by the Waupaca Co. Sheriff's Dept. because their care and conditions were suspected less than adequate. Five individuals in the family have been charged with various crimes and conditions of bond were ordered. When they appeared in court, they stated they already had collected in excess of 30 new animals.

In my opinion, the ordered bond conditions were nowhere near specific enough. Language, as spelled out in the bonds, was apparently not strict enough to be enforceable. The end result is that only about 2 months after the 500+ animals were taken away from them, the Niemuth property had over 70 animals on it. It is important to note that a large percentage of the animals taken in the first seizure were used for breeding and pregnant or with babies. Therefore, I don't think it's outlandish to expect that there will be a population explosion occuring with their animals in the coming weeks and months.

This is a good example of what happens when these situations are not taken seriously enough by the communities they occur in. It is my opinion that the Niemuths fall under the category of "Hoarders". Even after animals are taken from them, most hoarders will likely continue to collect more animals than they can care properly for, often breed them, and keep them in substandard conditions. My comments here are based on facts arising from similar cases that are well-documented. If you would like to have a better understanding of the hoarder's mentality, please check out www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/index.html.

It has been almost three months since the seizure, and there are still a few dogs and cats in need of homes. Several cockatiels were recently transferred to the RoseBerry Bird rescue in the Valley. There are still approximately 20 hamsters at the Humane Society of Waupaca County looking for homes. Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue still has approximately 40 guinea pigs. Most of the cute little babies have been adopted. Now we will have to work really hard to find homes for the remaining adult animals.

Our community was extremely fortunate the first time around that so many rescues, shelters and individuals came forward to help see that these animals were taken care of. If this situation is allowed to deteriorate, they may not be able to continue to be so generous in the future, especially if the situation could have been avoided. It is an unfair burden to repeatedly place on the backs of already over-worked animal rescue organizations.

I cannot stress this enough: WE (the rescue community) DO NOT RELISH THE THOUGHT OF POSSIBLY HAVING TO FIND HOMES FOR DOZENS MORE ANIMALS that Niemuths are possibly accumulating as I type. There is such a thing as a "saturation point"- for example, there are only a limited number of people in a given geographical area that want to adopt a hamster. There is already a shortage of adoptive homes in this area- let's try to not make the situation worse.

Also, this isn't just about the animals. It's about how much it is costing the taxpayers. We are, right now, footing the bill for 5 public defenders, courtroom time, the District Attorney's office, wages for sheriff's dept. personel, the list goes on and on. The longer this drags out, the more it's going to cost us all.

This problem is in the hands of our County Court system right now, and we need to tell them how seriously we expect them to take it. I encourage you to ask them to create and order strict and enforceable bond conditions, then prosecute and sentence to the fullest extent of the law. As elected officials, I'm sure they want to know how the community feels about these important issues. Please take a moment to send a short note to Judge Huber and the DA's office to let them know you care.

Sincerely,
~Monica Gates

Other letters Monica has sent to the District Attorney and Judge involved in this case:


Rachel Sincere writes:

January 9, 2005

Hon. Raymond S. Huber
c/o Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding Street
Waupaca, WI 54981

Dear Judge Huber,

My name is Rachel Sincere, and I run the Baraboo Area Guinea Pig Rescue from my home. You may have heard my name in relation to the Clifford Neimuth case. After the 114 guinea pigs were confiscated from the Neimuth residence, I traveled to Waupaca County several weekends in a row to help set up, medicate, and care for them. After the guinea pigs were released, my volunteers and I picked up the 105 remaining guinea pigs and brought them back to Baraboo. After many, many births, a handful of deaths, and fortunately many adoptions, we currently have 35 guinea pigs at my house and 12 more in foster care still awaiting homes.

After three months of hard work on behalf of Waupaca County, going through over $2000 of donations as well as hundreds of dollars of my own money, after the many trips to the vet in Madison, after the volunteers and adopters traipsing in and out of my house, and the six guinea pigs who were so ill that they had to be euthanized despite all our efforts, imagine my dismay as I follow this case and find that the bond was basically unenforceable and the Neimuths had already collected 73 animals in two months, including pregnant and breeding animals. What a slap in the face to all who have rushed in to help those original 499 animals, and the generous people all over the US, Canada, and UK who donated money to assist us!

As the former official court reporter for District VI, and more recently Judge James Miller's official court reporter in Columbia County (I am now retired due to medical issues), I saw many cases involving animal abuse or neglect. I know that it is possible to write an enforceable bond that forbids a person in an animal abuse case to keep or obtain any animals while the case is pending. For goodness' sake, when a person is charged with writing a bad $20 check to Kwik Trip, they aren't allowed to write any checks until the case is resolved! There are sentient beings involved here. Even discounting that, Clifford Neimuth's actions cost the county money and cost an enormous amount of money and time for people who are trying to clean up his mess.

And what have we to look forward to now? As things were just starting to look up, I realize that we will likely be asked to take a large number of guinea pigs again in the next month or so. How many other rescues and organizations are going to be asked to bail Waupaca County out once again? How will we know that this is not going to happen yet again? What reassurance do we have? We can always say no, of course. I can tell you this: The local shelters do not have the capability to take on more than one or two guinea pigs apiece. A week after I took in the first 105, a representative for a shelter in an adjacent county to yours, a shelter with a brand new million-dollar building, called me and asked me to take in some of their guinea pigs. Two other neighboring county shelters have asked for my help as well. I'm pointing this out because if the rescues who swarmed in to help refuse to come back, a large number of these animals will have to be euthanized. Somehow, I don't think Average Jane Waupaca Citizen is going to think much of the chain of events that led to that end.

I was shocked and disappointed at the weak list of misdemeanors that were charged. I hoped that that would at least have been backed up by a strong bond, once bond was finally set. Now we know that that is not the case either. I am left with exhorting you to punish these people to the fullest extent of the law, but most importantly, it needs to be clear that Clifford Neimuth and his family should not be allowed to obtain or keep any animals whatsoever. And if this is ordered, there needs to be follow-up to make sure that that is happening. The recidivism rate is high for animal hoarders and that was proven to you by the fact that the Neimuths collected 73 more animals in two months. When I do the math, it is staggering and disheartening. Clifford Neimuth was responsible for the mistreatment and suffering of hundreds of animals. Now it is up to the elected officials of Waupaca County to make sure that it this is not allowed to happen again. And if the citizens of Waupaca County do appreciate the assistance given them by people all over the state and the country, and if they want to keep the goodwill they have left, they will need to show that appreciation by taking strong action to make sure that our help isn't needed due to weak enforcement and a slap on the wrist.

Thank you for your time.

Rachel Sincere
Baraboo WI Guinea Pig Rescue
Baraboo, WI 53913


Linda Whitenton writes:

Dear Judge Huber:

My name is Linda Whitenton. I wrote to you in early December regarding the above-referenced cases, and I am writing you now to again, most respectfully yet very strongly, urge you to sentence the defendants in the above-referenced cases, if convicted, to the fullest extent the law provides. In particular I would ask you to investigate, and adjust if appropriate, the bond under which these defendants must comply until the final disposition of their case.

It is my understanding that their current bond specifies neither how many, nor what species, of animals they may have in their possession while their cases are pending. It is also my understanding that as of December 23, 2005, 73 animals were in the defendants’ possession, some of which were obviously pregnant.

I don't fully understand the purpose of such a bond. Though I am by no means an attorney, it seems to me that a bond written in this manner would be essentially meaningless and virtually unenforceable.

My husband and I have eight guinea pigs, and belong to a network of animal rescuers and rescue supporters. I cannot speak to other species, but guinea pigs may reproduce as early as age 3½ weeks. Their gestation period is 58-72 days, and ironically the most fertile time for a female guinea pig is immediately following litter delivery. If a male can reach her at that time, she will nearly always become immediately pregnant again; this is called “backbreeding” and is one hallmark of very poor husbandry due to the toll it takes on the health and stamina of the female.

In early October of this year, nearly 500 animals were seized and removed from the Niemuths’ property, in a severe case of neglect and maltreatment. Dead animals were found on, and removed from, the property, and others since then have had to be euthanized due solely to injury and illness developed over a long period of neglect, inadequate care and extremely poor husbandry. This family has since that time acquired 73 more, with more on the way. They are well on their way, in a very short time, back up to where they were at the time of the initial seizure.

Judge Huber, the rescue community has very limited resources. Most breed-specific and small animal rescuers and rehabilitators care for abused and neglected animals from their own homes, financing their care, needs and placement from their own pockets. Placing small animals into well-educated, good quality pet homes is quite difficult, and a significant number of the animals from the October seizure, including their offspring, still await good homes. It is grossly unfair to you, to the District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s office, to the taxpayers of Waupaca County, and to those who work in humane animal care and placement, to have to deal with the repeated abuse of animal hoarders. It is grotesquely unfair to any animal to be born into poor conditions, then simply euthanized (read: killed) when repeated seizures have stretched the rescue community’s resources past capacity.

Please ensure that these defendants are enjoined from possessing animals or having them under their care now, for the duration of their case, and after that, for the maximum amount of time permitted by law.

Thank you for your time and courtesy in reviewing this letter.

Respectfully,
Linda Whitenton


Alison Bellach writes:

Hon. Raymond S. Huber
Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding St.
Waupaca, WI 54981

Judge Huber,

My name is Alison Bellach, and I've spent countless hours at the Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue, run by Rachel Sincere, helping her take care of the hundreds of guinea pigs that she helped rescue after the seizure at the Niemuth property. In fact, I was present the day that she was shown photos taken during the seizure; what I saw was enough to turn my stomach. As someone of a fairly hardy constitution, I was surprised at my own visceral reaction to the blatant abuse heaped upon those animals by their owners.

I'm writing to encourage you, if possible, to prevent, by any means necessary, the ownership of any animal (livestock or otherwise) by the Niemuth family. Obviously it is far too late to revise the original bond against the family, even though the spirit of that bond has been blatantly violated in the Niemuth's accumulation of more than seventy animals. However, it is still possible for someone to take a significant stand against such animal cruelty by preventing this family from perpetrating it.
Thank you,

Alison Bellach


Carla Flaherty writes:

Hon. Raymond S. Huber
Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding St.
Waupaca, WI 54981

cc: District Attorney John P. Snider
Assistant District Attorney James H. Fassbender

Dear Judge Huber,

I am a California resident and a supporter of Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue. I am writing to ask you to prevent the Niemuth family of Royalton from owning any animals at all, or at minimum to take strong action to limit and control the number of animals of any sort they are allowed to keep. They currently have accumulated over seventy more animals. I feel this is unconscionable, and I do not think it is the Court's intent.

The animals critically neglected and abused in their care have become the burden of your local shelters, rescues, compassionate private homes, and their international supporters - and these were the animals lucky enough to survive. Their sad plight has brought spotlight on to your city from all over.

This family has clearly demonstrated a complete lack of the responsibility and morality necessary to care for any pets or livestock. I believe you know this, and am asking you to act accordingly.

Please don't allow the suffering and loss to happen again for yet another generation of animals.

Sincerely,
Carla Flaherty


Jennifer Gardner writes:

January 9, 2006
Hon. Raymond S. Huber
Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding St.
Waupaca, WI 54981

Dear Judge Huber:

I would like to take this opportunity to plead with you about a serious matter. I am a resident of Illinois and a supporter of the Baraboo Guinea Pig rescue. I have been following the rescue efforts that have recently taken place. I am pleading with you to take immediate actions to prevent the Niemuth family of Royalton from owning any animals. It is obvious that they are unable to provide proper care for any animals in their possession. In fact, they have currently accumulated over 70 more animals since in October 2005. And many of these animals are multiplying as we speak.

It is also obvious the animals underwent horrible living conditions. They were neglected and abused while in their care. These animals have now become the burden of your local shelters, rescues, compassionate private homes and their international supporters. This sad and unimaginable plight of these animals has brought negative attention to your city.

As far as the guinea pigs are concerned, Rachel Sincere of the Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue was there to pick up the pieces and was able to provide shelter, proper medical care and even give a few forever loving homes. Rachel continues to strive to provide the 35 she still has in her possession as well as the 12 she has in foster care a chance of living in a forever home. Now it has been reported that there may be more guinea pigs in the Niemuth’s possessions that may need future forever homes as well. This is very disturbing to those of us who not only helped financially but for those of us that have opened our homes to take in guinea pigs from this situation.

I adopted three from this situation. All three girls as well as the entire group that were confiscated from the Niemuth's have been subjected to such harsh conditions. My girls have traveled a very far to get to where they are today. Not only were they taken from Royalton to Baraboo to heal and be monitored for any pregnancies and be given the love and attention that they deserve but then to travel over six hours away to live in their new forever home with me and my family. There are not enough people in your area to provide forever homes for all the animals that the Niemuths had in their possession.

I want to share a quick story about a very cute guinea pig that I named Ashlie. Ashlie was one that belonged to the Niemuths. Unfortunately, she had to be euthanized because of kidney failure. When she came to live in the Baraboo Rescue, she was pregnant and it was soon discovered that she had a micro-ophthalmia. The one pup she gave birth to did not survive. Why did she have to suffer like this? She could've lived a long and healthy life if given half a chance. She was not the only one who had to suffer at the hands of the Niemuths. Many other animals had to be euthanized because of the conditions they were faced with day after day.

I not only provided a forever home for three guinea pigs but I have made monetary donations to help alleviate the medical expenses and to assist with proper nutrition. I will continue to assist Rachel and her volunteers as much as I can but now I ask that you help her as well.

Please make a clear and concise decision and prevent this from happening ever again. This family has clearly demonstrated a complete lack of responsibility and morality necessary to care for any pets or livestock. I believe you know this and are asking you to act accordingly.

Please do not allow the suffering and loss to happen again. I stress that it is very important that you take this seriously and punish them to the fullest extent of the law. Thank you for taking time out to read this letter.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Gardner,
Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue Supporter

cc: District Attorney John P. Snider
Asst. District Attorney James H. Fassbender


Serena Adler writes:

December 27, 2005

Waupaca County Courthouse
The Honorable John P Hoffman
811 Harding St
Waupaca, WI 54981

I have been closely following the Waupaca County animal hoarder case just like countless other animal lovers across the country. In fact, I think it is safe to say that my continuous inquiries in this situation may be more frequent than others because I was personally involved with the aftermath and animal placement during this awful event. When the Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue was asked to come to Weyauwega to provide care to over 100 guinea pigs, I was there. Being a dedicated volunteer to this rescue, I did not think twice about taking vacation from my professional job and driving 2.5 hours from Rhinelander to help the neglected animals. I was both saddened and sickened by the state of many of those animals but content that your county had the power to remove them from their horrid conditions and hopeful that these animals will find good homes soon.

As a Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue volunteer, I have given over $400 in donations for food, medicine, and bedding for the guinea pigs that have come to be in the rescue’s care. I have also used countless volunteer hours, travel time, gas, money, and phone conversations in order to aid in the adoptions of these guinea pigs. I really felt that I was making a difference and slowly helping one animal at a time find a deserving home.

Now it has come to my attention the Waupaca County Courthouse has allowed this animal hoarder to keep animals on his property again. This unfortunate news is inconceivable. Not only have these hoarders been charged with only misdemeanors but are now being allowed to acquire MANY more animals. This certainly isn't what I was expecting as punishment for their animal cruelty. Over 20 guinea pigs are now in that residence again – most of them are pregnant. If each had 3 pups, you are once again looking at an overpopulation of pets in one house – a house that has a history of animal neglect. This must be stopped now. Please set a precedence that proudly shows the state of Wisconsin and our country that animal abuse, animal neglect, and hoarding will not be tolerated in this fine state.

I am sure you are well aware that animal hoarding is a psychological disorder that is nearly impossible for the person or persons to correct solely by themselves. Stricter punishment and most importantly, mandated counseling, is needed in order to prevent this from reoccurring.

I, as well as hundreds of other animal lovers, will continue to watch this case closely.

Sincerely,

Serena Adler


Emily Fiegenschuh writes:

Hon. Raymond S. Huber
Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding St.
Waupaca, WI 54981

cc: District Attorney John P. Snider
Assistant District Attorney James H. Fassbender

January 11, 2006

Dear Judge Huber,

You may recall that I wrote to you in December regarding the Niemuth family hoarding case. Through my continued support of the Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue, it has come to my attention that the Niemuths have continued to acquire new animals, and at the last report, they had over seventy in their home. I'm certain the number will increase exponentially as the animals are left to breed indiscriminately.

When this case originally came to my attention, I was shocked to hear that the defendants were only charged with misdemeanors. I strongly feel that there is often too much lenience when it comes to animal cruelty cases. However, I was hopeful, regardless of the charges, that no more animals would ever be allowed to suffer in the Niemuth household. Now I am saddened to hear that there is little that can be done to enforce the conditions of the bond because of the way it was written. I'm asking that you please take whatever action possible to seize the newly acquired animals, and to absolutely forbid the acquisition of any new animals for the duration of this case, and afterwards for the maximum amount of time allowable by law.

Myself and others in Wisconsin, around the country, and even across the globe have been watching this case, and have contributed money and hundreds of volunteer hours to clean up after the Niemuths and care for the animals they so recklessly neglected. It would especially be a shame for those in the rescue community who have selflessly dedicated their time and money to find good homes for the rescued animals to have to start all over again.

It is obvious to me that the Niemuths have taken advantage of any lenience they were previously offered. Stricter guidelines must be set to prevent any more animals from suffering in their household. I hope that you will set a precedent for animal cruelty cases and show the rest of the country that the state of Wisconsin takes animal abuse cases seriously.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,

Emily Fiegenschuh


Jessica Warner writes:

Honorable Judge Huber:

I am writing to you today regarding the matter of the Niemuth family case. My purpose in doing so is to urge you to strongly consider barring these people from having the ability to keep ANY animal again. In my opinion, the gross, blatant animal mistreatment and filth discovered during last October's seizure alone is enough to bar the Niemuths from ever having the privilege of caring for an animal. Their continued disrespect for animal life and the law, as seen in their violation of the posted bonds only serves as further evidence that they are unfit. Not only did they misrepresent the number of animals they had, in the two months following the initial seizure of the animals, they managed to acquire over 70 more. These will no doubt produce more, who will produce more, exponentially making the problem worse.

Countless dozens of big hearted people opened up their lives, hearts and homes at the spur of the moment to help save these innocent animals and this case has made a deep impact beyond the local community. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars have been spent to save lives, and find safe homes for the nearly 500 animals that were in in the Niemuths' "care". Some didn't make it. Many more are still waiting. What will become of the next crop of animals this family will inevitably abuse if allowed animals again? The resources currently in place to help will being to run low. There are only so many people with so much time, money and willingness to help. You have the power to stop this from happening again. If the Niemuth family is again allowed to have animals, we are looking at a repeat of the situation we are currently dealing with. The way I see it, it just comes down to common sense. Please do all you can to stop things here, so no more animals will be hurt, and no more people will have to clean up the aftermath.

Sincerely,

Jessica Warner
Minneapolis, MN
Adopter of 2 guinea pigs from the October Niemuth animal seizure
& Baraboo Guinea Pig Rescue supporter

Guinea Pigs are for Life