More than 40 animals living in "deplorable conditions" were seized from a property in northern Wisconsin, officials said.
Photos taken Friday morning show specialists with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, working with the horses and wolf-dogs on a property in Crandon, about 26 miles east of Rhinelander in Forest County, according to a news release.
The owner was arrested on cruelty-related charges, and other charges are possible, the ASPCA said.
Officials went to the property to investigate complaints from residents about the owner breeding wolf-dog hybrids on her property and animals frequently escaping, posing a public safety risk.
Members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team found wolf-dog hybrids living in deplorable conditions, many kept on chains without access to proper food or water and suffering from various untreated medical conditions, according to the news release. Some were found running loose on the property. Responders also discovered horses who appeared to be suffering from neglect and malnutrition.
The ASPCA said dead animals were also found on the property.
Sheriff John Dennee said the department had been concerned about the animals for "quite some time," and he wanted to make sure the case was handled properly.
“We’re stepping in because the basic mental, social and physical needs of these animals are not being fulfilled and they are suffering from a very poor quality of life,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.
Rickey said the organization will work through the weekend to remove the animals and provide medical care at an emergency shelter. The ASPCA is setting humane traps to capture some of the loose wolf-dogs and take them to the shelter.
A wolf-dog hybrid is part dog and part wolf—the result of breeding a wolf with a domestic dog. Most wolf-dog hybrids are extremely timid and unpredictable, making them generally unsuitable and potentially dangerous pets. In Wisconsin, individuals who own wolf-dog hybrids are required to obtain a license and meet minimum requirements for animal care, confinement, reporting and record keeping.
"However these regulations are largely unenforced," the ASPCA said in the release.
The ASPCA said it will provide daily care, behavioral evaluations and enrichment for the animals until their future is determined by the court.
The Wisconsin Horse Council assisted the ASPCA and the sheriff's office with removing the animals. The original release from the ASPCA said the Dane County Humane Society was assisting with the incident, but DCHS said Monday it hasn't been involved in the case.