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Two dogs, 14 cats removed from filthy home with “horrid” odor

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CALEDONIA (WITI) -- A husband and wife from Caledonia are facing several charges after police responded to their home and found it filthy, and filled with 16 animals, including two dogs found to have health concerns, and 14 cats. Officials say the condition of the home was so bad -- the couple is being charged with a count of animal neglect for each of the animals found in the home -- and a count of child neglect in connection with their 15-year-old son.

48-year-old Yvonne Petersen-Zich and 53-year-old Randolph Zich face one count of child neglect and 16 counts of mistreating animals.

All charges the two are facing are misdemeanors.

Police were dispatched to the couple's home on Mary Drew Drive in the Village of Caledonia on Tuesday, March 4th -- responding to "family trouble."

A criminal complaint says the first officer who arrived on scene was greeted by Yvonne Petersen-Zich, who said "don't mind the house, it isn't clean."

While inside the home, the complaint says officers found evidence of 14 cats and two dogs living in squalor.

The dogs are "Bandit" and "Timber."

Bandit is a 16-year-old dog who can barely walk. Bandit is kept on a pee pad reportedly changed daily by Randolph Zich -- on the floor of the dining room. The dog was apparently eating its own fur on the right side, and was observed lying on the floor on matted down hair. He appeared unable to move -- and he was unable to hold his head up -- according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says Yvonne told officers Bandit had been brought inside two years ago by Randolph "to die." The dog has been previously registered under Randolph's name.

The complaint says Timber -- a 16-year-old bloodhound mix was initially found to be in good health -- but he was put away when officers arrived because he barks at strangers -- and is apparently aggressive towards humans.

The complaint says officers learned the last time either dog was taken to the vet was two years ago.

Yvonne told officers she has 14 cats, which appeared to be roaming free all over the home. The cats appeared to be well-fed and in good health -- but the odor in the home was reportedly "horrid" -- according to the complaint.

The complaint says a very strong odor of cat feces and animal urine was evident throughout the home.

Additionally, the home was found to be unkempt, with dirty dishes in every first floor room, cat litter boxes found to be full and not recently cleaned (though Randolph claimed they are cleaned daily), cat hair on every observable surface in the home (including food prep areas), a strong smell of ammonia from cat and dog urine, numerous brown stained spots believed to be vomit and/or urine stains -- and old stains from cat and dog defecation. These details according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says the home was cluttered with clothing and other debris.

Police do not believe this was a hoarding situation with personal property -- but may be a cat hoarding situation.

The complaint indicates the couple's 15-year-old son was the only other occupant of the home.

The complaint says Yvonne told police the boy is home-schooled -- but with Randolph in jail for pending felony child abuse charges and Yvonne in the hospital -- no one is home with the boy.

Police advised Yvonne that Bandit appeared to be suffering -- and Yvonne told police she wanted Bandit to stay where he is until he dies. Police then told Yvonne it is inhumane to leave the dog to suffer -- especially without a vet to look over him, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says Yvonne refused to surrender any of the cats.

Yvonne told police the house needs to be cleaned up for her health and the health of her animals. The complaint says she was given two days to either get Bandit to the vet, or surrender the animal.

The Caledonia Health Department and Wisconsin Humane Society were made aware of the situation.

On March 6th, an individual with the Central Racine Health Department inspected the home, and the inspector told police when observing Bandit, she at first thought the dog was dead. The complaint indicates she issued an order to have the residence cleaned by March 26th.

Police had to be called during this inspection because Yvonne reportedly made suicidal statements. She was worried about losing her animals, according to the complaint. She was admitted voluntarily to seek a mental health evaluation.

The complaint says police met with Randolph at the Racine County Jail. There, Randolph told them Bandit eats, and says he changes the urinary pads underneath the dog three times a day. He told police he was going to take Bandit to the vet, but said his wife had received a $700 tax refund and had spent the money on the health of a cat.

The complaint says Randolph refused to surrender any of the cats -- but agreed to surrender Bandit.

The Wisconsin Humane Society's Racine Campus was informed it would be receiving a 16-year-old emaciated dog.

Officers returned to the home, where they spoke with the couple's 15-year-old son. He said he "guesses he will have to take care of the animals." When asked who primarily takes care of the animals -- he said he and his mother, according to the complaint.

The complaint says in attempting to remove Bandit from the home, they discovered the dog was extremely emaciated, with hair missing from numerous spots. He was unable to hold his head up and his head was shaking. The ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones were evident from a distance. There was no discernible body fat and obvious loss of muscle tissue. The complaint says Bandit appeared to be in pain.

The complaint says it was at this time that officers noticed Timber appeared to be emaciated, but not as badly as Bandit. An officer observed ribs, rear lumbar, vertebrae, and pelvic bones visible, no visible body fat and minimal muscle mass.

The 15-year-old boy was removed from the home after telling officers he is home-schooled, and believes it is better at home. The complaint says he told police he would just "hang out." A Human Services worker determined the boy could not stay alone at the home any longer -- and he was taken into protective custody.

With no one left at the home to care for the animals, arrangements were made with the Wisconsin Humane Society Racine Campus to remove the remaining animals from the home, according to the complaint.

Officials were able to capture a total of seven cats and Timber. Seven cats were unable to be captured -- and live traps were set up in the home, according to the complaint.

Officers say they noticed every room in the home had litter boxes overflowing with feces -- and each room had feces on the floor. According to the complaint, the door to the basement had a hole cut into it to give the cats access to the basement -- and officials found more feces in the basement than in the rest of the residence.

The complaint says officers noticed empty cat food cans lying throughout the residence -- and empty pet food dishes in the 15-year-old boy's room.

Randolph Zich has a pending Racine County court case in which he faces a felony child abuse charge, and a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

This case was filed on March 5th, 2014 -- one day after officers were first called to the home in Mary Drew Drive.

3 comments

  • Logan

    How can people be so stupid that they believe everything they read? This story is so misleading, that there is no word superlative enough to describe it. The police & the news love to sensationalize. It leads to a much better story. Public outrage! What better way to get more viewers! Yes!! Sadly, most people don’t seem to have the intellect to be more discerning about what they read. Bottoms up, peeps! Kool-Aid is being served!

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