By Shereen Siewert

A Wausau-area man charged in an animal mistreatment case will avoid prison time if he complies with the terms of an agreement and obtains no new criminal charges over the next nine months.

William Hannahs, of Eland, was charged in March 2020 after police removed six dogs, including the body of one animal discovered dead in a barrel, from a Marathon County home.

A Marathon County deputy, in February 2020, responded to an anonymous complaint at a residence in on County Road OO requesting a welfare check on several outdoor dogs. When police arrived, they found seven live dogs and several cats at the residence, which is owned by Hannahs. Six of the dogs were kept outdoors, according to the police report.

Police say six of the dogs were only given small blue plastic barrels without hay or straw to shelter in, and one of the six died prior to the deputy’s arrival. One dog had knocked its blue barrel out of place and could not access any shelter at all, according to the police report, while another had badly matted hair with a body score of two on a nine-point scale. On the day of the deputy’s investigation, the wind chill was about -30 degrees.

Those five dogs, all of which had “very low” body scores and two of which had frostbite on the tips of their ears, were taken to the Humane Society of Marathon County, while the deceased dog was taken to a veterinary hospital for a necropsy.

On March 17, 2020, Hannahs was charged with mistreatment of animals, causing death – a felony – along with two related misdemeanor charges. But during a plea and sentencing hearing Tuesday, Circuit Judge Greg Strasser agreed to dismiss the felony mistreatment charge and one of the two misdemeanors. On the single remaining charge, intentionally failing to provide food for animals as party to a crime, Judge Strasser approved a deferred entry of judgment, according to online court records. If Hannahs complies with all terms and conditions of the agreement, the state will amend the charge.

Charges against a second suspect in the case were dismissed.