"Great Chinchilla Operation" ends, remaining 50 animals leave HAWS shelter

WAUKESHA -- The “Great Chinchilla Occupation” has ended, according to officials at HAWS, the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.

HAWS had been acting as the holding facility since more than 300 chinchillas were seized on March 29th, 2015, from a home in the city of Waukesha.

Police and fire officials were called to the home to check on a human resident when several hundred chinchillas were discovered inside. HAWS had been allowed to adopt out 270 of the chinchillas in May 2015, while approximately 50 of the animals remained at the shelter as part of the ongoing legal action.

“We had hoped for the opportunity to adopt out the remaining chinchillas, but the owners were allowed to take responsibility and place them as they chose,” said HAWS’ Executive Director Lynn Olenik. “They declined our offer to assist with the placement of the animals.”

“Unfortunately, there are gaps and grey areas in Wisconsin’s laws regarding animal hoarding cases and how to handle them, and this situation exposed them,” continued Olenik. “The decision as to which agency or organization held overall legal jurisdiction in the case, and then coming to a timely resolution of the case, were both very difficult situations,” Olenik noted.

HAWS is only able to serve as housing and care facility, and is without legal authority in these cases.

“Hoarding cases and these types of animal neglect situations are not going away,” stated Olenik. “We ask that the citizens of our community advocate all levels of government for clearer, specific animal cruelty legislation – and demand tougher penalties for those who commit animal abuse and neglect. We thank all those who supported HAWS and our efforts while we handled this challenging situation.”