No decision on return of dogs to It Matters to One owner as opponents pack courtroomSubmitted: 04/25/2017
RHINELANDER - Stephanie Schneider last saw many of the dogs under her care two-and-a-half months ago.

At a civil court hearing on Tuesday in Oneida County, she tried to get them back. But Schneider will have to wait at least an additional month for a decision in her lawsuit.

On February 6, Oneida County Sheriff's Deputies seized more than 35 dogs from It Matters to One animal rescue in Sugar Camp, which Schneider operates. Schneider was later arrested, and the Sheriff's Office recommended animal mistreatment charges against her. To this point, no charges have been filed by the Oneida County District Attorney's office.

The dogs in the seizure are now in protective care elsewhere. Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom heard arguments Tuesday as Schneider sued to get them back.

Two witnesses gave more than two hours of testimony on Tuesday. Several more witnesses will give testimony at a May 25 continuance of the hearing before Bloom makes a decision.

Oneida County, which is fighting the return of the dogs to Schneider, brought to the stand a pair of witnesses who were present at the February 6 seizure. Oneida County attorney Mike Fugle walked both through the dozens of photographs they took at the facility that day.

Much of the testimony of the witnesses--Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Companion Animal Inspector Colin Benell and Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy Nancy Reklau--centered around the accumulation of feces inside and outside of the facility.

"To me, it suggests that feces had not been removed for several days," Benell said. "Accumulated feces can be a disease hazard due to parasites and other diseases that may be transmitted through the feces."

"It is dried feces and some dog fur, hair," Reklau said, looking at one picture of a kennel.

Reklau testified that more than 90 percent of kennels had dog feces inside of them.

The witnesses also touched upon broken windows and walls, exposed electrical wiring, and missing drywall at It Matters to One.

Reklau will return to the witness stand when the hearing continues May 25.

More than 50 people packed Bloom's small courtroom. Dozens wore T-shirts with "I Stand with Darcy" printed on the front. Darcy is a pit bull now under the care of the Oneida County Humane Society. That dog developed severe skin problems and scabbing while at It Matters to One. A report from Rhinelander veterinarian Dr. Brian Buchberger after Darcy was taken from the facility helped spark the seizure of other dogs at It Matters to One.

The people wearing the T-shirts strongly oppose the return of dogs to Schneider.

"I was extremely proud and grateful, and I think once more evidence is released, there will be a much bigger crowd," said Kellie Snow, who first reported possible neglect and mistreatment of animals at It Matters to One to law enforcement.

Snow looks forward to testimony that goes beyond feces at the facility.

"There are bigger issues at hand, too, concerning neglect, the hoarding, and deceased animals," she said.

Schneider, her supporters, and attorney Hank Schultz all declined interviews on Tuesday.

The hearing will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on May 25.

After that, Bloom will likely make a decision on the placement of the dogs.

For more coverage of this story, click the links below.

Related Weblinks:
Former It Matters to One employee tells of neglect, mistreatment at Oneida Co. animal rescue center
Documents: Animals, surfaces covered with feces at Northwoods animal rescue; It Matters to One license suspension first ever in state
Update: Arrest made after 39 dogs taken from It Matters to One in Sugar Camp earlier this month

Story By: Ben Meyer

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