By Shereen Siewert
An investigation into a town of Harrison animal abuse case is now focusing on the conditions at a home from which several dogs were allegedly stolen.
Four adult golden retrievers and two litters of puppies have been reunited with their rightful owners after they were among 24 animals rescued from conditions so horrific, one puppy had to be euthanized.
The animals were seized Nov. 14 from the home of Kimberly Lawrence, 43, and Randy Diels, 37, who face multiple criminal charges in connection with the discovery, including dognapping and mistreatment of animals causing death.
Lawrence and Diels told police they “found” the golden retrievers, which had been reported stolen between three and five months before they were found, according to the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department incident report.
Investigators are now raising concerns about the conditions at the home from which the dogs were allegedly stolen.
On Nov. 20, a Marathon County Sheriff’s deputy visited that home, on Hwy. Y in the town of Harrison. There, they discovered 11 more dogs, six of which were being kept outdoors and without access to water, despite having heated water bowls in their kennels. Most kennels were at least partly covered in feces, according to the report.
Police have issued an abatement order for Jeanette Hoeppner, the owner of the dogs at the Hwy. Y property, though they say Hoeppner did have licenses for the dogs, all of which were up to date on rabies vaccinations.
In addition to the 11 dogs on the premises, a total of 15 dogs, including 11 puppies, were due to be returned to Hoeppner.
In interviews with police, Lawrence and Diels told police they believed Hopenner was running a “puppy mill.”
Hopenner, who is not a licensed breeder, told police her animals typically have one to two litters per year, never exceeding requirements set by the Dept. of Agriculture for licensing a breeding operation. The town of Harrison grants kennel licenses for up to 12 dogs.
The Marathon County Sheriff’s Department and Dept. of Agriculture are continuing their investigation. Officials say Hoeppner is cooperating, and has pledged to improve conditions for the animals on her property.