RACINE -- Rescued from what investigators call a "house of horrors," 26 dogs allegedly abused for months are now getting the help they need. Police took the dogs out of a Racine home and took the homeowners into custody.
63-year-old Terry Bogard and 33-year-old Heather Jensen are accused of mistreating more than two dozen dogs at that Racine home. Each faces 26 misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals – intentional or negligent violation.
Terry Bogard, Heather Jensen
In mid-spring, residents along Harmony Drive in Racine, say they began to notice suspicious activity from the couple that lived across the street.
"They were keeping dogs in their van, and they were leaving them overnight in their cages, and there was an extreme amount of them," said Ralph Baker, neighbor.
Baker called animal control in June, and again in August.
Police say Heather Jensen and her boyfriend, Terry Bogard, were running a foster home for dogs out of their home called "Lucky Mutts."
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the agency that licenses animal rescue facilities, was unaware of Jensen's operation.
"In this particular case, records of the licensed facility in New Berlin did not show that this particular location had more than 25 dogs. But once we started receiving complaints, they inspected the Racine location," said Raechelle Belli, DATCP spokeswoman.
On August 10th, inspectors found dogs in enclosures that were too small and stacked on top of one another. There were also sanitation and ventilation problems.
Jensen was given three weeks to fix the problems and remove several dogs from the home.
A DATCP spokeswoman says animals are only removed if they are in imminent danger.
"And your inspector did not believe the dogs were in imminent danger. No," said Belli.
After receiving more complaints from neighbors, DATCP, with the help of law enforcement and the Wisconsin Humane Society, removed 26 dogs from the house -- taking pictures of the conditions they were found in.
A WHS Facebook page says the following:
"Our staff worked swiftly to remove the dogs from these conditions, and we can’t possibly thank you enough for the support that makes it possible for us to do this lifesaving work. The dogs have settled in comfortably at all three of our shelter locations and if you’d like to help, they could really use new or gently used Large and X-large Kongs, Nylabones, dog toys, and soft treats."
"I was shocked. I did not think that those conditions across the street were like that at all. After seeing the pictures, I'm surprised they didn't do anything that day," said Michael Dickmann, neighbor.
According to Lucky Mutt's Facebook page, Heather Jensen had served as the president of the dog rescue but has since been removed from her position and is no longer with Lucky Mutts in any capacity.
In the end, 24 dogs were taken by the humane society. Two other dogs were Jensen’s personal dogs and turned over to family members.
Jensen has been released from jail but she declined to speak with FOX6.
A cleaning crew was at her home Tuesday afternoon, getting her house back to livable conditions.
If you would like to make a monetary donation to help with the care of the dogs, CLICK HERE.
IMPORTANT: Officials say the dogs are currently considered "seized," which means they are on a law enforcement hold. They aren't technically owned by WHS, so they are not available for adoption at this time.