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‘We are endlessly grateful:’ WHS officials offer update 5 years after 94 animals rescued in Caledonia

RACINE COUNTY — Exactly five years after 94 animals were rescued from Orphan Kanines in Caledonia, officials with the Wisconsin Humane Society on Wednesday, May 29 celebrated the survivors and the families that have loved and cared for these animals since they were rescued from the “shelter” and two homes.

WHS officials took in 94 animals from the Orphan Kanines facility (80 dogs, 12 cats and two pigs) on May 29, 2014. Sixty-four of the animals were adopted in June 2014 and the remaining animals went home in the following weeks as they recovered from serious illnesses and behavioral issues that required therapy.

Four of the animals were euthanized due to severe medical or behavioral issues.

The surviving animals had been living in deplorable conditions, suffering from medical issues, injuries and behavioral challenges. WHS officials noted inside the Orphan Kanines kennels, the concrete floors were covered in feces, it was incredibly loud, the dogs didn’t have clean space to eat or sleep, and the lack of ventilation combined with mold, excrement, and urine made the air quality dangerously potent.

The animals were removed, treated, rehabilitated, and eventually placed into loving homes during the historic adoption event in June 2014.

In an effort to celebrate the survivors, WHS officials reached out to the adoptive families for updates, with the hope that Orphan Kanines adopters could share, interact, and support each other, as WHS officials demonstrated the transformative power of love, patience, and compassion.

“To anyone who has donated to our organization, we hope you can feel proud scrolling through this album of fairytale endings made possible thanks to *your* support. We are endlessly grateful,” WHS officials said on social media.

Debra Gray, 60, of Racine, was charged with 85 counts of intentionally mistreating animals, 85 counts of intentionally causing improper animal shelter — sanitation and one count of operating a shelter without a license — filed in June 2014.

In October 2015, she pleaded no contest to three counts of intentionally causing improper animal shelter. She was sentenced to serve two years’ probation on each conviction, to be served concurrently, for a total of two years’ probation. Ninety days’ jail time on each count was stayed.

In November 2014, new criminal charges were filed against Gray after officials discovered a makeshift animal operating room in the basement of a home on County Road H in Caledonia owned by Gray’s mother. Mary Pratt, a veterinarian found performing operations was charged as an accomplice.

In that case, Gray was charged with six counts of misdemeanor bail jumping and two counts of possession of an illegally obtained prescription. The eight charges in that case were also dismissed as a result of this plea deal.

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As conditions of her probation, she was ordered not to operate any animal shelter, store or any other business with animals. The court ruled if she was compliant with the rules and regulations of her probation, she would have the ability to be approved for no more than two pets.

Gray’s attorney said she was happy with the plea and sentence, calling Gray a “lover of animals,” saying she has “a huge heart.”

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