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Deplorable conditions found inside Orphan Kanines facility…TWO YEARS AGO?!

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CALEDONIA (WITI) -- Video from the Wisconsin Humane Society shows feces and urine covering the floor of the Orphan Kanines animal shelter in Caledonia. Two weeks ago, more than 90 animals were seized from the facility and two other locations. Orphan Kanines' owner, 55-year-old Debra Gray, faces 85 counts of intentionally mistreating animals, and one count of operating without a license. Now, FOX6 News is learning conditions inside the facility in 2012 were apparently just as bad as they were in May of this year -- and documents show the state knew about it.

Newly-obtained documents say in 2012 not one, but two inspectors entered the facility -- and found deplorable conditions.

Documents from the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection show in 2012, Gray applied for a state license.

In May of that year -- an inspector reported finding piles of feces, no working ventilation system inside the facility -- and the building was reported to be surrounded by swarms of flies.

The inspection of the facility was stopped early due to ammonia levels inside.

Gray's application for a license was rejected.

A week later, Racine County's humane officer, who enforces state laws, followed up -- and reportedly found drainage lanes clogged with urine and feces.

That inspector also reported being overcome by the smell of ammonia.

The state says Gray promised to shut Orphan Kanines down, and get rid of the remaining dogs she had at the time.

"Why we weren't notified at the time, I don't know," Lt. Gary Larsen with the Caledonia Police Department said.

Just as the state ordered Gray to close the shelter, the Countryside Humane Society -- contracted to employ the county's humane officer, closed.

Countryside's building was turned over to the Wisconsin Humane Society.

"The Wisconsin Humane Society did not provide a humane officer, so at that time, agencies in Racine County had to establish their own humane officers on their police departments," Lt. Larsen said.

As Caledonia trained an officer to take the job as a humane officer, Lt. Larsen says the state never shared details of the 2012 inspections.

"Why we weren't notified at some point during the process, I can't answer that.  I don't know.  It would have been nice if we were. My personal thought is due to this transitional period that we had, this probably fell through the cracks," Lt. Larsen said.

It's a slip that may have allowed an illegal shelter to keep animals in deplorable conditions for two more years.

The Village of Caledonia now has a humane officer that works directly with the state, so it is unlikely something like this could happen again.

FOX6 News reached out to the state in this case.

The state says in May of 2012, a state inspector found awful conditions inside the shelter and denied the shelter a license.

A month later, another state inspector stopped by and was told the 12 remaining dogs were leaving the shelter that day.

The state says it is up to the local humane officer to notify the village of any problems.

At the time awful conditions were found, the job of humane officer switched hands in Caledonia.

The Caledonia Police Department says the case clearly slipped through the cracks.


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