Posted: Sep. 9, 2020 11:00 am
QUINCY — Quincy Humane Society board member Sally Westerhoff said she has been a part of several large-scale animal recovery efforts over the years, but the recent recovery of nearly 300 cats and dogs from a rural breeding facility near Clayton stands out.
“For this to be in my own backyard, so to speak, is certainly one of the larger ones I have been a part of here locally,” said Westerhoff, referring to the recovery of more than 140 cats and 150 dogs from Hapke Bernese Mountain Dogs breeding operation.
“To be honest, there has not been time to count just how many animals were rescued from there,” Westerhoff said. On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Agriculture partnered with the Humane Society, Quincy K-9 Connection, PAWS Jacksonville, Felines and K-9’s Inc. from Chicago and the Animal Protective league out of Springfield, Ill., to retrieve the animals after the owners of the breeding operation agreed to surrender their operator’s license.
IDOA Public Information Officer Krista Lisser said in a statement that the state agency became aware of “deteriorating conditions” at the pet breeder’s facility last week.
“In the course of the IDOA’s investigation, it was determined the animals needed to be removed from the facility,” Lisser said. “IDOA partnered with shelters to find suitable placement for the animals. The license was relinquished by the facility owner and the Department’s investigation is ongoing. All Department materials related to the investigation will be forwarded to the Adams County state’s attorneys office.”
The Adams County state’s attorney’s office is waiting on reports from the state agriculture department to determine if charges are warranted.
“We’ve made no decisions on charging or not charging,” said State’s Attorney Gary Farha.
He added that just because the animals were surrendered does not mean that charges won’t be filed.
Farha said he knew that the facility had been visited by the Department of Agriculture, as well as the county animal warden, because of complaints, but this is the first time he is aware that animals were removed.
Westerhoff said the animals in the care of the humane society are responding well to their new environment.
“I think the futures of these animals are very bright. Their physical conditions are already improving, they are gaining weight thanks in part to having food and water available to them. We are starting to see the personality of each of them coming out,” Westerhoff said.
The dogs retrieved from the Clayton facility are largely large breed species canines, including Australian shepherd, German shepherd, husky, and Bernese mountain dog, which Westerhoff said is a unique breed in the region.
The cats, which range in age from kittens to adult cats, include some domestic short hairs and some exotic breeds.
The recent uptick in applications for would-be pet adoptees is also causing Westerhoff to feel optimistic about the animals’ future.
“We’ve had over 60 applications today. I think some of those are largely because of the Bernee mountain dogs but I know there are some who are applying for the cats too,” Westerhoff said.
She said now the animals are being fed and cared for, with some of the cats are in isolation due to ring worms infections.
“There are some pretty serious cases of ringworm with the cats, especially in the kittens, who are now on a minimum six week treatment regiment,” Westerhoff said. The infected cats are all expected to make a full recovery.
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