NEILLSVILLE — Police had been called 13 times over the past four years to the home of a woman accused of criminally neglecting 49 animals, but repeatedly issued her warnings and allowed her to keep her pets.
Carolyn M. Christie, Neillsville, faces 26 misdemeanor charges ranging from intentionally mistreating an animal to failure to provide proper shade for an animal after authorities on Aug. 16 seized 43 dogs and six horses police say were living in deplorable conditions.
Christie had a history of complaints, according to court documents. From June 27, 2011, through Aug. 15 of this year, county officials received 13 complaints about Christie's animals. Deputies issued Christie verbal warnings for food, water and shelter issues, as well as for letting her animals run at large, according to court documents.
On Aug. 15, a Clark County man and his son reported two dogs were running down the road on Marg Avenue in Pine Valley, and one of them was dragging a chain. The dogs were panting so the two gave them water and one began gagging and coughed up green slime and grass.
When officers went to the home, N4139 Marg Ave., Pine Valley, they found several dogs and horses in bad shape and poor living conditions, according to court documents. Empty buckets were strewn around the yard, but there was no water and no food. The temperature was 90 degrees that day and some of the animals had no shade.
Officers located a faucet and began to fill the buckets, but the water ran out the bottom. The officers searched for and found buckets that would hold water and took water to all the animals, according to court documents.
Clark County Dispatch notified Christie she needed to take care of the animals, and she sent a friend to the Pine Valley farm to help. The friend was annoyed that someone had called in a complaint about Christie, according to court documents.
The man told officers that Christie was doing her best to care for the animals, but it got away from her, according to court documents. He said people would just drop animals off at the farm and Christie would take them in.
The next day, county officers, with help from the Clark County Humane Society, the Midwest Horse Welfare Federation and a veterinarian, returned to the farm to search the buildings.
A dog sits chained to a ceiling in a barn in Pine Valley, where officers arrived with search warrants Sunday. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Clark County Humane Society)
Officers found 11 dogs confined to the home's kitchen, bathroom and entryway. The floor of the area was covered in feces and urine and the house had an overwhelming smell of ammonia, making it difficult to breathe, according to documents.
Officers found more dogs in the basement, garage and barn. In all cases, the dogs were living in deplorable conditions, with no sanitation, food or water, according to the court documents.
Someone had arrived with a pickup on Sunday and placed two round bales of hay in among the approximately 25 horses, according to the documents. The hay wasn't enough and it appeared as if the more dominant horses pushed out the ones that were less aggressive.
Officers seized the animals and the county has taken ownership of them. Some have already been adopted from the Clark County Humane Society.
About a year earlier, on Sept. 15, 2014, an officer had investigated a report of a Pine Valley resident that someone had staked two horses in the caller's yard. The officer found a small pony tangled in chicken wire in the yard and 10 dogs, which ran toward Christie's property when the officers arrived on scene, according to court documents.
The officer checked the animals at Christie's farm and saw they all appeared to be in good health. He asked Christie what her plans were for the animals, and she said she hoped to remove them before that winter, according to documents.
The officer arranged for Christie to take two of the dogs to the Clark County Humane Society, but, although she said she would, she never took the dogs in. In October, Christie turned two dogs over to the officer, according to court documents.
The court files also describe Clark County Sheriff's Department contacts with one of Christie's neighbors who expressed frustration in January that she had called the county several times, but nothing was done about the situation. The woman said she had called the county humane officer, Pine Valley chairman and Clark County Board members.
The earliest complaint in the court file was from June 2011, when an officer investigated a report of a neglected horse. The horse's muscles appeared to be wasting and its hooves were long and beginning to curl, according to the report. Christie said the horse was about 30 years old and was suffering from a bladder infection, but she was giving it medication she got from a veterinarian, according to the complaint.
Christie is scheduled to make her initial appearance in court in the case Sept. 23.