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Thyme & Sage Ranch Investigation:

Operation Freedom 200

One of the dogs confiscated from Thyme and Sage Ranch.

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NOTE: On February 21, 2011, Jennifer Petkus stood for trial for what became an 18-day trial. On March 10, 2011, the jury returned a verdict, finding Petkus guilty of certain of the misdemeanor charges, including intentionally mistreating animals, failing to provide water to certain animals, and providing insufficient sanitation. Petkus lodged an aggressive defense and was found not guilty of certain other charges. On April 28, 2011, the Court withheld its sentence on the six counts for which Petkus was convicted and sentenced her to three years of probation, to be served concurrently. The Court further ordered Petkus to pay the costs of supervision, court costs, and restitution and disallowed her from owning any further animals other than those then on the property by agreement with authorities.


Some of the 200 dogs who were moved out of the temporary tents at Dane Co. HS, soon to be on their way to one of 14 other shelters in WI.       For 200 of the dogs confiscated from Thyme and Sage Ranch, May 31, 2009 was a VERY good day. They left the compassionate care of Dane County Humane Society and and the national organizational members who came to DCHS to assist with the seizure and the initial care and treatment of the dogs, on their way to safety and comfort at fourteen other humane societies around the state.

       In advance of the warrant that freed these animals from their inprisonment at Thyme and Sage Ranch, Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies (WFHS) worked to locate ample housing in shelters and humane societies in Wisconsin for ALL the dogs. Just as soon as Jennifer Petkus, the owner of Thyme and Sage, signed over the 200 dogs to the Dane County Humane Society on 29 May, the plan for moving them to their new housing was put into action.

       Assisting in the transportation were members of the all-volunteer Badger Animal Rescue Transportation Services (BRATS).

       Vans loaded with empty animal carriers and crates began to line up at the security checkpoint on the grounds of DCHS at around 8 am that sunny Sunday. Throughout the morning, shelter members of Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies arrived in waves with vans and volunteers along with additional BRATS teams.

       One by one,the dogs from the "big tent temporary housing" were transferred aboard by volunteers and members of the HSUS Emergency Animal Relief Services (EARS). The dogs were made comfortable in crates and kennels lined with blankets to prepare them for their trip to their destination shelter. All of their "paperwork," providing ID, vet records, and observations about the animals, was attached to carriers and crates.

 pawprint bullet point   Participating Shelters   pawprint bullet point

Looking to the future: dogs confiscated from Thyme and Sage Ranch about to embark on the next stage of their journeys to wonderful new homes.       Organizers and volunteers alike were struck by the spirit of teamwork that characterized the entire operation, from the serving of the warrant to the transport of the dogs. National organizations worked shoulder-to-shoulder with state and local groups. Dane County Humane Society took the initial responsibility for the animals, and when help was needed, volunteers from all over the state responded.

       "Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies has handled some large cases in our history, but never anything like this," said Debby Lewis, WFHS President. "We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we also knew we could manage it."

       And manage it, they did: In just six and a half hours, all two hundred dogs were on their way to a new life. Chuck and Cheri Wegner from Clark County Humane Society had the distinct honor of taking the last of the dogs back to their Shelter. Chuck said, "As the last one was brought out of the tent all the volunteers from the various groups applauded. It was a touching moment and one I won't forget."

       He added, "This whole action goes to show that Wisconsin has a group of caring people who can rise to the occasion. We came from all over the state, helped where needed and tackled a tremendous logistical problem without a hitch."

       Eilene Ribbens, a member of WFHS, summed it up: "All I can say is I witnessed a miracle today. I'm so very happy to have seen the love, support, compassion and kindness extended not only to the dogs but to each and every human member of the team working on their behalf. There was not one angry word or misplaced step. Everyone knew their job and each person supported the others to complete this mission of mercy."

       Many of the participating shelters had already been approached by rescues offering to take some of the dogs for fostering, rehabilitation, and to facilitate adoptions.

       Over seventy dogs remained at Dane County Humane Society. Some were held as part of the on-going case against Petkus.

       Meanwhile, 200 dogs, who had suffered abuse and neglect for so long completed a giant leap on their journey HOME.

Loaded vans in front of the temporary housing tents at Dane Co. HS prepare to transport some of the 200 dogs to shelters across WI.


 pawprint bullet point   Thyme and Sage Ranch Investigation Introduction   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Thyme and Sage Ranch: Overview   pawprint bullet point   In Depth: Personal Stories About Thyme and Sage Ranch   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Operation Freedom 200   pawprint bullet point   Participating Shelters   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point    Criminal Complaint against Jennifer Petkus (pdf)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Animal Hoarding: Overview    pawprint bullet point   Reporting Suspected Animal Cruelty   pawprint bullet point   Filing a Complaint Against a Dog seller/ Shelter   pawprint bullet point

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Photos Copyright 2009, byL on Stetler, BRATS. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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