Humane Society could lose license if director found guilty

SHEBOGYAN COUNTY (WITI) -- The executive director of the Shebogyan County Humane Society, charged with illegally buying drugs, wants to keep her job. Eilene Ribbens is currently banned from being near the shelter, after she was accused of illegally purchasing large amounts of painkillers.

Sheboygan County prosecutors say the charges against Ribbens could result in the shelter losing its license to operate. Leaders at the Humane Society say Ribbens was just following her passion and was trying to help animals.

On Wednesday, April 3rd, the Sheboygan County District Attorney charged Ribbens for illegally obtaining prescription medication for animals. Ribbens, the shelter's interim director, is prohibited from purchasing medication.

Police reports and court records allege Ribbens illegally ordered 1,000 pills of tramadol hydrochloride -- a powerful pain medication. She allegedly used the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project's credit card to pay the bill and lied to co-workers, saying she was ordering the pills for a dog who couldn't afford the meds, out of the "kindness of her heart." However, Ribbens later admitted to police she actually sent the medication via Fed-Ex to her sister and niece.

"I called the Sheboygan Police Department and made a complaint, told them what I knew," Dr. Frederick Lord said.

Dr. Lord has been the Humane Society's veterinarian for the last decade. He says Ribbens used his information to order the drugs, and when he found out, he had no choice but to report Ribbens to police.

"It's sad. It's hard, and for me it's sad because I loved that place," Samantha Wehse said.

Wehse turned in her resignation letter to her boss at the Sheboygan County Humane Society one week ago. She says her boss made her working environment at the shelter a living hell.

"She would embarrass people, and I've seen her make multiple employees cry," Wehse said.

Ribbens is now facing felony charges. A criminal complaint charges that Ribbens purchased 1,000 pills used as painkillers -- telling the pharmacy she was a vet tech.

"People in this type of position have to understand they can't do this. She didn't have any authorization to order this prescription medication or to disperse -- both things she has admitted to," Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said.

As part of an agreed bail, Ribbens was forced to turn over her keys and stay away from the shelter.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society's Board is still sticking by its director. On Friday, April 5th, Ribbens' lawyer is expected to ask a judge to let her back in the shelter and continue her job as the case makes its way through court -- a move that one former worker feels could harm the place she loves.

"I just hope people continue to donate and adopt, and everything they have been doing.  And obviously we don't want to see anything bad happen to the shelter," Wehse said.

DeCecco says if Ribbens is found guilty, the shelter could lose its state license to operate.

FOX6 News has reached out to Ribbens with no response at this time.

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