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.
Earlier this month, police seized 39 dogs at an animal rescue shelter in Sugar Camp.
Now, Stephanie Schneider has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the It Matters tor One Animal Rescue.
She was arrested for failing to provide food or water, mistreating animals, and obstructing law enforcement.
Her first hearing was scheduled for February 27, 2017.
Before Monday, February 6th, only 17 dogs called the Oneida County Humane Society home at its shelter in Rhinelander. But now that number has nearly tripled. The Oneida County Sheriff's Office along with the Humane Society removed 39 dogs from It Matters to One Animal Rescue in Sugar Camp Monday.
Veterinarian Brian Buchberger of Animal Health Care Center in Rhinelander knows what a happy and healthy animal should look like.
But about three weeks ago, the veterinarian of almost 20 years treated a dog he thought had to have been neglected.
"This dog had severe skin infections that had been obviously going on for a long time," said Buchberger.
The dog came from It Matters to One Animal Rescue in Sugar Camp. Three weeks ago, a humane officer with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office had gotten several complaints of neglect at the animal rescue. The officer went in and found a pitbull mix that needed medical help.
That discovery led to an inspection at the animal rescue Monday.
"They realized that these dogs needed to be removed immediately because there was some concern about neglect," said Oneida County Sheriff's Office Capt. Terri Hook.
Thirty-nine dogs were taken from that animal rescue and placed in the Oneida County Humane Society. The Sheriff's Office said a few other dogs needed medical attention while others needed food and water. Hook says the Sheriff's Office is investigating how and where that neglect started in the first place.
"These dogs are coming in, and some of them already have issues," said Hook. "But the dogs that we're talking about, some of those dogs have been there for a long period of time. Specifically the first dog that was taken out of there had been there for several months."
Former volunteers and employees from the shelter have reached out to say animals were never neglected at the rescue. But Hook's first priority is the dogs.
"Our main concern right now is making sure that the dogs are safe and cared for and not being neglected," said Hook.
Oneida County Humane Society Director Bria Swartout says they're used to taking care of up to 30 dogs at a time, so having almost 60 dogs can be overwhelming.
"It's very difficult to see that many dogs come in at one time," said Swartout. "Staff is prepared for situations like this, so we just want to help."
It's help that Buchberger is happy to give. The first dog that came in is still recovering.
"The dog still has a lot of severe skin sores that healed up quite significantly," said Buchberger. "The dog has a lot of scarring of the skin, scarring of the head, neck, and the legs that it may have for the rest of its life."
Newswatch 12 reached out to It Matters to One, but have not heard back from them yet. It Matters to One wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday that it's "unsettling that someone would accuse us of neglect."
The Oneida County Humane Society is looking for dog food and blanket donations. For more information on how you can help, go to http://www.ochspets.org/. at the link below.
Oneida County Humane Society