RHINELANDER - Animal shelters need all the help they can get placing pets with families in the community. And correctional facilities look for ways inmates can give back to the community. Two local facilities have partnered to meet those needs.
An unusual partnership? Maybe. But it looks like one that will be mutually beneficial.
Getting a dog ready for adoption often means teaching obedience and social skills, which takes time and resources.
It's a task inmates at the McNaughton Correctional Center will take on to help the Oneida County Humane Society.
"Each case will be different; each dog with have their own specific needs. One dog may need social skills. Other dogs might need just basic skills like 'sit', 'lay down'," says Bria Swartout, from the Oneida County Humane Society.
McNaughton houses inmates who are finishing sentences and getting ready to re-enter society. Many of them already participate in work release programs.
Superintendent Brad Kosbab believes the program will help more than just the animal shelter.
"They'll get some satisfaction that, one, they're doing something from the community. It will give the inmate a sense of accomplishment in the fact that they'll be able to see from start to finish results and what it does for the dog. It will also help, like I said, with some of those interpersonal skills," says Kosbab.
The center will choose inmates based on behavior and records. Kosbab says McNaughton has always had a good relationship with surrounding communities.
"We also want to expand into new relationships and we want to be a good community partner with everybody and this just seemed like a pretty cool way to do that," says Kosbab.
The program won't cost taxpayers any money. The humane society will still have to foot the bill for the upkeep of the dogs, so community support is appreciated. You can contact the Oneida County Humane Society if you'd like to donate.
STEVENS POINT - A former Portage County doctor could go to prison for sexually assaulting his patients. Wilton Calderon pled guilty to three felonies Friday.
Calderon was a caregiver at the Plover Family Practice until leaving it in 2015. He then moved to Connecticut.
At least seven women accused Calderon of sexually assaulted them during appointments. Some patients said Calderon placed his genitals in their hands and performed unwanted gynecological exams by penetrating them with his fingers.
SUGAR CAMP - Update Feb. 17, 2017 10:20 p.m. -- The woman who runs an Oneida County animal rescue could face animal mistreatment charges.
Oneida County Deputies booked Stephanie Schneider on Thursday. She is due in court on Feb. 27.
Last week, deputies removed 39 dogs from Schneider's "It Matters to One" in Sugar Camp and put them at the Oneida County Humane Society.
Police are recommending charges to the district attorney, which include failing to provide food and water, mistreating animals, and obstructing officers.
People who know Schneider say they can't believe this is happening.
"I'm just heartsick about this, and I'm sick at heart for her," said LynnAnn Thomas, a Sugar Camp resident who says she's friends with Stephanie Schneider.
"Those are her children. She would never, ever , ever mistreat them," Thomas said.
But that's exactly what police believe Schneider did. Last week they removed the dogs from the facility after a weeks-long investigation that was prompted by complaints and concerns from several people.
"People that had worked or volunteered there were concerned about the conditions that the dogs were in and the fact that they were not receiving food or water," said Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook.
Those accusations baffle Thomas.
"I been over there several times, it's always been meticulously clean, happy dogs," Thomas said.
Thomas believes whatever condition the dogs were in, they came to Schneider that way.
"She does get some really, really, really desperate cases, and I imagine that they take a long time to heal," Thomas said.
Thomas added she got her own dog from It Matters To One a few years ago.
"I got my little Hankey, he came in in really bad shape, and she wouldn't let me have him until he was nursed back to health," Thomas said.
Since the dogs were removed, It Matters to One posted certificates of veterinary inspections on its Facebook page for most of the 39 dogs. The Sheriff's Office has seen those and is including them in its investigation, which is ongoing and may not end soon.
"Just to ensure that all the dogs are healed and make sure they've received all the care they need," Hook said.
Newswatch 12 has reached out to It Matters to One and has been communicating with the rescue via email.
The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection is helping the sheriff's office with its investigation and will decide if the rescue can keep its license.
Newswatch 12 also reached out to the veterinarian who conducted the inspections for the rescue, but has not yet heard back.
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