WASHINGTON COUNTY, Wis. - Colton Brooder, 34, of Hubertus faces multiple charges in connection with the alleged mistreatment of puppies in Washington County. Nearly 50 were seized in Richfield, and the good news here is that all found new, loving homes after this ordeal – adopted out by the Washington County Humane Society days after they arrived in Wisconsin.
Brooder is charged with three counts of operating as a dog breeder or dealer without an operator license and three counts of mistreating animals – intentional or negligent violation. Prosecutors say he told investigators he was working with Operation Bring Animals Home, a recognized Wisconsin-based nonprofit, but the founder says that's simply not true.
"To be my honest, my heart was broken," said Caryn McCollum, founder/director of OBAH. "All I could think about was these dogs and the terror that they felt sitting in the back of this pickup truck."
This all started Sept. 2 when sheriff's officials responded to a complaint at a Richfield home.
The caller said she had read several Facebook posts from Brooder indicating "that he had over 20 puppies in the bed of his pickup truck and more than 20 puppies in the cab of his truck," the criminal complaint says. She told investigators she believed he "planned to sell the puppies and was not equipped to care for them."
Deputies went to Brooder's home just after 9 p.m. on that Friday. They spotted a pickup truck in the driveway matching the description given by the caller. The deputy reported "the bed of the truck was not covered, and she observed numerous small dog kennels stacked in the bed of the pickup truck and strapped down." Each kennel contained several puppies.
Looking through the window, the deputy saw more kennels stacked inside the truck, according to prosecutors.
Charging documents say on Aug. 30, Brooder first drove from his home in Washington County down to Louisiana, where he picked up six puppies. He then went to Texas and picked up some more before driving to Arkansas to pick up a 3-month-old puppy at a gas station.
Brooder told investigators there were two more stops in Oklahoma before he drove back to Wisconsin on Aug. 31. Along the way, he told people he was working with OBAH.
"He was not," said McCollum.
McCollum said she was shocked when she got a call from detectives asking if this was true.
"We had no association with this," said McCollum. "We had no idea what was happening."
McCollum said she hopes this reminds people to research where they buy their animals from.
"I think the lesson is make sure you know where you’re getting your animals from," she said. "There’s a lot of people out there that call themselves ‘rescuers.’ They are not really affiliated with anybody. They may mean well, but you don’t know what condition this animal is when you get it."
Court records show Brooder later admitted to detectives he was not affiliated with OBAH and that he planned to sell the puppies.