More than 300 chinchillas removed from Waukesha home; official calls it worst he’s seen in 30 years

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WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Officials on Sunday, March 29th removed more than 300 chinchillas from a home in Waukesha -- a home that's being described by authorities as "unlivable."

Police were called out to the home near Melody and Laura Lane Sunday for a welfare check. They found the home to be unlivable -- with a Waukesha Fire Department battalion chief describing the conditions inside the home as the worst he's seen in 30 years on the job.

Law enforcement and Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) crews worked to remove more than 300 chinchillas from the home. We're told at least two dozen of the animals are dead.

Crews described a high level of ammonia in the home, likely due to the number of animals that were being kept there.

"Initially when we got in there,  there were elevated ammonia levels from all the urine inside the house from animals," Mark Sweet with the Waukesha Fire Department said.

Two adults and one child were at the home when crews arrived Sunday. We're told two other children also live at the home.

"They were raising chinchillas in there. Our fire marshal deemed it not livable in there. The parents living there found other places to live. There was an adolescent child who has been placed with other family members for now," Sweet said.

Officials say all family members who were living in the home appear to be in good health.

Property records show a Pewaukee man has owned or co-owned the home since 2007. It is unclear whether he lived at the home.

Richard Schetter, who lives across the street says the home has been a nuisance property for years -- with an over-growing lawn in the summer and unshoveled sidewalks in the winter. But neighbors say that's nothing compared to what they couldn't see.

"Never saw a cat a dog or any animal.  They were just strange. I hope they burn the house down. I don`t know how you can stand the smell of it," Schetter said.

Chinchilla fur is considered extremely valuable. In fact, the animal is now considered to be "critically endangered." Possible charges will likely be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office in the coming week.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.


  • s holmes

    It’s the worst he’s seen in 30 years, but on the upside, his wifes new coat looks really good.

    • Mr. Bob

      Just watch, pretty soon the Brewers will have a 6th Racing Sausage in the Chinchilla!! That should complement the Brat, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, Hot Dog, and Chorizo pretty well!!! I’ll have one Chinchilla but please no fur on mine!!!

  • meagan

    Um, critically endangered? Maybe in homes like that or with inexperienced owners!

    Wild chinchillas in South America, sure, but if you’re going to post such information as news that reaches masses, try to bone up on your knowledge. Pet chinchillas are bred throughout the world and i can tell you now that they are not endangered. That family will not get in trouble for raising “critically endangered” chinchillas. Theyre not critically endangered nor are they JUST raised for their fur. I hope they get in trouble for how those animals were kept.

    • Mr. Bob

      Apparently Meagan some were indeed “critically endangered chinchillas” as 12 of them were already DEAD!!! Pretty normal I guess to have 300 “pet” chinchillas in a single family home. Obviously these losers got suckered in to thinking they were going to score big on selling the fur for huge profits. Guess they forgot about the fact that these animals do need to eat, drink, urinate and defecate on a daily basis and that someone needs to clean up after them….

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