Hundreds of people gathered outside the Marathon County Courthouse in Wisconsin this week during a hearing for a woman who is accused of killing her boyfriend’s dog and describing her ongoing torture of the animal in her diary.
In a packed courtroom, Sean D. Janas, 20, of Wausau, waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday and was ordered to stand trial on charges of felony mistreatment of animals, giving poison to an animal and obstructing an officer.
Janas is accused of poisoning and stabbing Mary, a 4-year-old Laborador-shepherd mix in June.
According to the criminal complaint, Janas kept a diary describing her intense hatred for Mary, and detailing the abuse she inflicted on the dog, included forcing her to drink bleach and Drano over the course of several months.
Janas faces more than five years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted. She remained in jail this week on a $2,500 cash bond.
Those attending her hearing — before Marathon County Circuit Judge Mike Moran — were required to walk through metal detectors, and Marathon County Sheriff’s deputies searched briefcases and handbags, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.
Before and after the hearing, protesters circled the courthouse, seeking justice for Mary and demanding more laws and tougher penalties to combat animal abuse.
“We don’t have tough enough laws that protect animals, and I believe vets should have to report any suspected abuse, just like they would in a child,” said Kelli Obremski, 42, of Mosinee, who brought both her children and her boxer to the protest.
“We’ll come to every appearance we can,” Obremski said. “It’s that important.”
(Photo: Sean D. Janas mugshot)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, accounts, animal cruelty, animals, bleach, boyfriend, county, courthouse, cruelty to animals, descriptions, diary, dog, dogs, drano, hatred, marathon, mary, pets, poison, poisoned, poisoning, protest, sean janas, stabbed, stabbing, wausau, wisconsin
Police in Osceola, Wisconsin, say a man tied up a teenager he suspected had stolen from him, hung him upside down and commanded his pit bull to attack him.
Police said the 58-year-old homeowner ordered his pit bull to attack the 18-year-old three times — first as part of “interrogating” him, then a second time, then a third time after tying him up, dragging him outside and tying him upside down to the porch rafters.
The 18-year-old was treated at a hospital for for multiple dog bites and released, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Police said the young man’s father witnessed, and may have participated in, the “interrogation.”
A third person who saw what was going on at the residence called police.
Charges of false imprisonment, negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery and bail-jumping are being referred to the Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office against the 58-year-old man, who is scheduled to be tried on an unrelated charge of child abuse later this year.
The boy’s father is expected to face similar charges, along with failing to aid the victim in reporting a crime.
The dog is being held at the Fond du Lac Humane Society.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack, bites, dog, dogs, fond du lac, humane society, hung, interrogation, ordered, osceola, owner, owners, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, rafters, wisconsin
It has been about three months since we last checked in on Wausau, Wisconsin, and that ridiculous two-dog limit it imposes on its residents.
At the time, Melissa Lecker and her husband James were being told by the city they must part with two of their four dogs.
James and Melissa had moved there three months earlier, for jobs, and bought a house — unaware of the city’s two-dog rule.
When they were notified they were in violation of it, they requested an exemption, pointing out that their two golden retrievers were 13 years old, and probably wouldn’t be around much longer anyway.
Most of the bureaucrats they appealed to acted like, well, bureaucrats. They declined to discuss an exception, and the Leckers decided that, rather than part with a family member, the only thing they could do was move.
After some media coverage about their situation, and the city’s two-dog limit, the city council began reviewing the law, and the mayor notified the Leckers that, until the council decided whether to change ordinance, they wouldn’t be fined.
As Melissa Lecker wrote in a recent opinion piece in the Wausau Daily Herald:
In March, Mayor Jim Tipple told us we would not be fined and would not have to give up the dogs. We took our home off the market and began to settle in to our new home and new city, hoping to put the past behind us as the city drafted a new ordinance …
The city began considering a revised and slightly more liberal ordinance that would limit households to five pets — any combination of dogs and cats, as long as the total didn’t rise above five.
Given the Leckers have three cats, in addition to their four dogs, they’d still be over the limit, and, according to Melissa, the mayor told them that once a new law was in place they could be fined.
“I am glad change is coming. But it doesn’t help us,” Melissa wrote.
“We have decided as a family it is best for us to leave Wausau. We’ve signed a contract with a Realtor and have begun preparing our house for sale. We’ve also found a home in Stevens Point we are interested in buying. Regardless of what Wausau does at its June City Council meeting, we feel this is no longer where we belong.”
City officials say the ordinance was passed in 1989 to curb animal nuisance complaints, but as Keene Winters, a member of the city council, noted in an opinion piece in Sunday’s Herald, it has now become a divisive issue.
“Soon, we could have pet owners and non-pet owners locked in a cage match for municipal supremacy,” he wrote.
“There does not seem to be any evidence that the three-dog households already among us create any unusual nuisance,” Winters wrote. “So sending out our police to compel 125 of our neighbors to make a “Sophie’s choice” and eliminate a member of their family is likely to be greeted as unfairly punitive.
“I can see no compelling public interest in the two-dog limit that would warrant imposing such a heartwrenching penalty on so many of our neighbors.”
Winters said he favors allowing people to have up to five well-behaved dogs, assuming they license them. (Only about 30 percent of Wausau’s dogs are registered, he says.)
The city council is meeting tonight on the issue, and it appears divided on whether the ordinance should be altered or kept intact.
The Daily Herald, in an editorial yesterday, came out against the limit — which now restricts a family to two dogs and three cats – saying other existing laws are sufficient for addressing pet-related problems:
“The City Council should do away with the limit on pets, and it should make sure local law enforcement has what it needs to enforce the rules that do make a difference in residents’ lives.”
Under one proposal, residents could get a special “pet fancier’s” permit, allowing them to own up to five animals. In other words, the only change would be moving from a limit of two dogs and three cats to a limit of five pets total, in any combination.
How positively liberating.
Meanwhile, between the confusion, the city’s intrusive rules, and what Lecker describes as the heavy-handed enforcement of them, it has been enough to lead at least one family to wave goodbye to Wausau.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bureaucracy, city, city council, dog, dogs, government, james lecker, jim tipple, laws, leaving, limit, maximum, mayor, melissa lecker, moving, municipalities, number, owners, ownership, pet, pets, rules, town, two dog limit, wausua, wisconsin
When we hear about it, we like to pounce on big dog discrimination before it happens.
So let’s talk about Middletown, New York, where city officials think it would be a good idea to require all renters whose dogs tip the scales at more than 25 pounds to carry liability insurance.
This makes about as much sense as Wausau, Wisconsin’s two-dog limit, our topic Friday.
What fear-mongering, fact-ignoring, bandwagon-jumping city officials need to get through their heads, once and for all, is that it’s not the size of the dog, the breed of the dog, or even the number of dogs that cause dog problems — it’s the dog owner.
Be it “nuisance” or “danger” they are trying to protect us from, that’s who they need to be going after.
Not family’s like the Lecker’s in Wausau, who have four dogs, but bought a house not knowing the town limited households to two, and now face a choice between moving or ditching two dogs.
And not responsible dog-owning renters who, in the case of Middletown, might find themselves paying up to $300 a year to ensure any dog bigger than a breadbox.
Singling out breeds and setting arbitrary weight limits is doggie discrimination, pure and simple. (We’d argue the proposed Middletown law discriminates against renters as well.)
In Middletown, the Common Council is looking at a proposal that would require tenants to get at least $100,000 worth of liability insurance on dogs weighing over 25 pounds, according to the Times Herald-Record.
The proposed law is in response to a rising number of dog bites, city officials said. According to Mayor Joe DeStefano dog bites are covered under most homeowners’ policies, so the law would target only renters. The proposal doesn’t single out any breeds, but city officials have said they are concerned about the rising number of pit bulls in the city.
The city says there were 94 reported dog bites in Middletown over the past three years. Of them, 79 were from “large-breed” dogs, 37 of them from pit bulls or pit bull mixes. It also says two city employees have been attacked by pit bulls in recent months while on the job.
I wonder how many of those pit bulls were really pit bulls, as opposed to a convenient designation. I wonder, in the case of all those ”pit bull mixes,” why what else is in the mix isn’t mentioned. And I wonder, when it comes to those “large-breed” dogs doing the majority of the biting, if the city is referring to all dogs over 25 pounds.
But what I wonder most of all, since the requirement would do nothing to actually address the problem, is what purpose — beyond fattening up insurance companies — it would serve.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, big dogs, big dow owners, city, dangerous, discrimination, dogs, insurance, landlords, laws, liability, mandatory, middletown, new york, nuisance, pets, renters, required, requirement, tenants, wausau, wisconsin
In Wausau, that’s two dogs too many.
While the town is letting them keep the children (it hasn’t sought to limit those), it’s insisting the Leckers get rid of two of their dogs, or get out of town.
James, 29, a website developer for Midwest Communications, and Melissa, 32, who works in social services, moved to Wausau from Stevens Point for job reasons in January, and bought a house.
They were unaware that local law prohibits residents from having more than two dogs — and they didn’t learn that was the case until a police officer mistakenly stopped at their house while investigating another matter.
They’ve requested an exception from the city and been told there’s no chance of that.
So now they’ll be leaving, even though they expect to lose $15,000 on their home.
“I couldn’t sleep for a week. I’m not eating; there’s just so much stress,” Melissa Lecker told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I either have to get rid of two family members or lose $15,000, and either way it’s stressful.”
City officials say the ordinance was passed in 1989 to curb animal nuisance complaints, and there seems little interest on their part in either changing the law, or granting exceptions. The law also limits pet owners to three three cats, three rabbits or three gerbils.
(We can only guess that’s to cut down on nuisance gerbil complaints.)
Jim Brezinski, the city council member whose district includes the Leckers’ home, said he doesn’t plan to intervene and that the issue should “go through the appropriate channels.”
But there aren’t really any channels to go through.
“Our current ordinance doesn’t allow for a variance,” Wausau city attorney Anne Jacobson told WAOW.com.
Lisa Rasmussen, chairwoman of Public Health and Safety, said she opposes increasing the number of allowable dogs, Fox News reported.
“I hope we can work something out,” Melissa Lecker said. “But they are just being so mean. My dogs didn’t bother anyone.”
A petition on Change.org, supporting an exception for the Leckers, says the family went before Wausau’s Public Health and Safety Committee to request a one-time variance that would allow them to keep all four of their dogs long enough for the two eldest ones to die, but that the committee denied the Lecker’s request.
“Now, because the Leckers innocently opened their door to accommodate a police officer who stopped by the family’s property accidentally, they are in danger of having to pay a $300 fine for each day that all of their dogs, their family members, remain in their home … a daily fine that could add up to more than $9,000 in a given month … fines they will face simply because they love their pets, or, as Wausau sees it, too many of their pets,” the petition says.
(Photo: Green Bay Press Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, city, council, dog, dogs, fines, four dogs, government, james lecker, law, liberty, limits, melissa lecker, move, moved, officials, ownership, pet, pets, restrictions, two dog limit, two dogs, wausau, wisconsin
Twins Anna and Kristy Berington were born five minutes apart. Yesterday, again just minutes apart, they started off on the 975-mile Iditarod Trail, the first twins ever to compete in the race.
Kristy is a two-time Iditarod finisher; Anna is competing in her first Iditarod.
“Our mom didn’t even know she was having twins until Anna was born,” Kristy, who is five minutes older than her sister, told the Anchorage Daily News. “She never even got an ultrasound and our heartbeats were completely identical.”
While sled dog racing tends to run in families, Iditarod officials say the twins are the first — and the first sisters — to compete in an Iditarod.
The twins are also known to turn a few heads in a sport where — at least in the Iditarod — three of four racers are men.
“A lot of people kind of get the feeling that she’s just a pretty face — that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, that kind of thing,” Anna said of Kristy. “But she’s definitely proven that she is a dog musher.”
Kristy finished 39th in the 2010 and 29th in 2011. She came in ninth in this year’s Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile race — and won the Veterinarian’s Choice Award for best dog care among the mushers.
The sisters grew up in northern Wisconsin, where they built dog sleds from downhill skis and a milk crate and used their Great Pyrenees and a border collie as their sled dogs, the Daily News reports.
The Beringtons began the race within minutes of each other at the timed start Sunday in Willow. Kristy drew position No. 31; Anna is No. 33.
(Photo: Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animals, anna, anna and kristy berington, berington, dogs, first, iditarod, kristy, pets, race, racers, sisters, sled dog, sports, start, twins, wisconsin
If the school district in Hudson, Wisconsin, has its way, an empty greyhound racing track could be turned into a school.
The school board approved an $8.25 million offer Monday to buy the St. Croix Meadows Greyhound Racing Park, but the purchase is contingent on voter approval.
District officials said Tuesday that the 130-acre property would be used to address long-term space needs for grades six to 12, according to the Pioneer Press.
It has not been determined whether it will be home to a high school or middle school, or what will happen to the building now standing there.
Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten said buying the property is a move toward reducing crowding at the middle and high schools.
The district has been in contact since 2009 with a representative from Miami-based Croixland Properties Ltd., the track’s owner. Initially, the sales price for the track was $20 million.
The dog track opened in 1991 and was losing as much as $7 million a year when it closed in 2001.
There was a plan to turn it into a casino, but that was opposed by Indian tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin who already operate casinos near the Twin Cities.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, crowding, dogs, education, greyhound, hudson, pets, purchase, racing, referendum, school district, schools, st. croix meadows, tracks, wisconsin
Tougher regulations on dog breeders go into effect in Wisconsin next month, and some unscrupulous breeders may be dumping dogs in an attempt to avoid them.
The Baraboo News Republic reports that, within the past week, two area families have found crates containing purebred dogs in their driveways.
And the Sauk County Humane Society says those dogs were just a piece of the bigger picture. The shelter has experienced a large spike in the number of purebred strays collected in the past month.
“It just boggles my mind,” Humane Society Executive Director Dianne Horlamus. “It’s wonderful, because they’re easy to place. But I’ve been in the shelter business for about 30 years and you rarely see that amount of purebreds coming in.”
About 75 percent of the stray dogs entering the shelter in the past month were purebreds that were not spayed or neutered. Ordinarily, about 1 percent are purebreds.
The new state law will require breeders who sell 25 or more dogs a year from more than three litters to apply for a license. State regulators will have authority to inspect any licensed breeders and, if necessary, order them to bring their facilities into compliance with state standards. Those who stay under the limits are not subject to the inspections and regulations.
Horlamus suspects some larger breeders are trying to get rid of animals so they don’t have to comply with the law.
“We’re trying to get the word out that they don’t have to do that,” Horlamus said, adding that anyone can surrender an animal to the shelter free of charge. “We want people to be comfortable bringing us a dog. We’re not going to judge you.”
The newspaper quoted one breeder as saying there is “an awful lot of what we call dumping going on, and that’s just pulling along the side of the road and dumping them off, or throwing them over the wall at the local humane society.”
The breeder said others have given away dogs, or shot them.
Breeders ditching animals to skirt the new law, are violating another one.
Abandoning animals is against state law, and subject to a penalty that starts at $500 but goes up to nine months in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said the new law gives breeders time to sell their dogs and shut down their businesses. “They don’t have to just set the dogs free,” she said. “They could have sold those dogs… They can’t blame it on the new law.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal welfare, baraboo, breeders, ditching, dog, dogs, dumped, humane society, law, legislation, pets animals, puppy mills, purebreds, regulations, sauk county, shelter, wisconsin
It’s probably safe to assume she meant well, but a 70-year-old disabled woman has been cited by police for letting her dog walk run down the street while she followed it in her car.
The woman’s car was stopped by police in Madison, Wisconsin, and she was ticketed for permitting her dog to run at large, according to Madison.com.
Police had been tipped off about the woman’s habit by neighbors, who had complained about the dog running free.
“At the time of the complaints, the officer tried, without success, to contact the pet owner,” said a police spokesman. “Now, after seeing the little white dog strolling down East Mifflin with a car following close behind, it rang a bell and he had the chance to talk to her.”
The woman explained to the officer that she walked her dog that way because she is disabled.
“The officer was sympathetic but explained she had to find another way to exercise her canine,” the police spokesman said. “He suggested putting up a fence and then issued a citation for permitting a dog to run at large.” The ticket is for $114.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, citation, disability, disabled, dog, dog walking, dogs, leash, madison, pets, street, ticket, unleashed, walking, wisconsin
My original plan for the drive from Madison, Wisconsin to the quiet little town of Sauk Centre, Minnesota — where Sinclair Lewis grew up and which he mercilessly skewered in his book “Main Street” — was to listen to an audio version of the book on the six hour drive.
Sauk Centre was one of the stops John Steinbeck — a fan and acquaintance of Lewis’ — made with his poodle in “Travels with Charley,” though they didn’t seem to spend much time there.
When I told my sister and her husband of my plan, they both got online to find me an audio version of the 1920 book, and managed to turn one up at the library branch in Stoughton, about 30 miles from their home in DeForest.
I drove there to pick it up, planning to mail it back when I was finished. What the Stoughton branch of the library had, though, were cassettes, and I needed a CD. As we all know, this is the American way – to get us all hooked on one form of technology, and then, when we’re not looking it, switch it, leaving us lost, even if we have GPS, which I don’t.
A friendly library staff member checked her computer and rerouted me to the main branch in Madison, printing out directions to help me find my way.
Downtown Madison was easy to find, but somehow I managed to get lost. The state Capitol serves as a nice huge landmark, but because it looks the same from all sides, and because I’d accidentally strayed from the directions, I circled around for about 30 minutes — crossing Madison’s Main Street about six times — before I accidentally pulled up next to the library.
I parked and ran in, only to find what they had wasn’t the book on CD, but a group discussion of the book on CD. Back at the car, where Ace waited patiently, I had a $20 parking ticket.
So when I set off in the pouring down rain from Madison the next day, Sunday, it was, thanks to my sister, with three sandwiches, three apples, two bananas and a Thermos full of coffee — but no “Main Street.”
That segued into “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” which featured Dick Van Dyke as a guest. He revealed something I didn’t know. The theme to the old Dick Van Dyke Show, which went on the air the same year “Travels with Charley” was published, actually had lyrics, though they weren’t written until after the show went off the air.
The lyrics were written by Morey Amsterdam, who always reminded me of my grandfather, who was always quick with a pun and a musical ditty.
I’m not sure how we got from Sinclair Lewis to my grandfather, with stops at John Steinbeck, Garrison Keillor, and Morey Amsterdam. Blame it on the stream of consciousness that tends to babble so briskly — if not always clearly — when I drive.
While they were all fine storytellers, we shall close as we pull into Sauk Centre and get situated in our room at the Gopher Prairie Motel with the sweet and simple words of Mr. Amsterdam, and one more sappy 60′s song — the lyrics to the Dick Van Dyke Show theme:
Why not hold your head up high and,
Stop cryin’, start tryin’,
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed
When you find the joy of livin’
Is lovin’ and givin’
You’ll be there when the winning dice are tossed
A smile is just a frown that’s turned upside down,
So smile, and that frown will defrost.
And don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed!
Posted by jwoestendiek October 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1960s, ace, america, animals, authors, dick van dyke, dick van dyke show, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, garrison keillor, john steinbeck, lyrics, main street, minnesota, morey amsterdam, pets, road trip, sinclair lewis, sixties, storytellers, travel, travels with ace, travels with charley, wisconsin