At 6am on Tuesday 19th May, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, aided by the ASPCA®, raided the Thyme and Sage Ranch animal sanctuary in Cazenovia, which is about 65 miles north of Madison, and confiscated the animals, some of which had open sores. The ranch owner, Jennifer Petkus, was charged on Thursday 21st at Richland County courthouse with 11 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and 5 forfeitures, including improper shelter and mistreating animals. The formal reading of the criminal complaint, at which Petkus will present her plea, is to take place on Friday 29th May at 1PM.
The Thyme and Sage Ranch animal sanctuary was the acting pound for Richland County, for which Petkus received $750 a month from the county. The county’s Law Enforcement and Judiciary Committee voted to award the county’s contract to take in stray dogs to Thyme and Sage on December 11th 2008, ahead of another bid for $1000 per month. The failed bid was from Richland Area Rescue, who had held the contract for 5 years prior to Thyme and Sage Ranch. In minutes from that December 11th meeting, the owner of Richland Area Rescue, Larry Wyman, raised concerns about Thyme and Sage Ranch, but was ultimately unable to substantiate them.
Richland County Officials, who have examined the March and April stray dog pick-up reports submitted by Petkus, now believe that fewer than 5 of the 370 rescued animals were rescued under her contractual obligations with the county.
The Dane County Humane Society, which is sheltering many of the seized animals, has appealed for donations of money (see below) and full-sized bath towels, which can be dropped off at the shelter at 5132 Voges Road, Madison, Wisconsin.