Mistreatment Charges Filed for Animals Found in UHaul Trailer

A German Shepherd is the latest casualty of an animal neglect case involving a U-Haul truck and horse trailer traveling through Superior last week.

The dog died Wednesday night as a result of anal fissures and built up scar tissue, according to Humane Society of Douglas County Director Sheila Keup.

The woman who was hauling the animals, 60-year-old Jennifer Jean Vail of Fowlerville, Mich., made her initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Thursday. She faces two felony counts of mistreatment of animals for the death of a horse and dog in her care. Cash bail of $2,500 was set earlier in the week for Vail, and she was ordered not to possess any animals. A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 2 to give Vail time to retain an attorney.

Two area residents called Superior Police to report seeing an overcrowded horse trailer being towed through the city on Nov. 6, according to police reports.One caller indicated there was a dead horse in the trailer.  When police found the rig, pulled over near the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, they located one dead and five live horses in the four-horse trailer. The animals were thin with their ribs showing; one was eating manure, according to reports.  Community Service Officer Chris Wagner felt the horses showed signs of neglect, malnutrition and dehydration and called Sheila Keup, director of the Humane Society of Douglas County.

Three dogs were crammed into the cab of the truck. One collapsed when it was set on the ground. Keup likened his condition to a “dead dog breathing.” The canine had to be euthanized.

Rescuers thought that was the end of it until they went to open the back of the U-Haul truck and found two cats, Keup said.

Vail told officers that she was traveling from Michigan to California with the animals. She said the deceased horse had been injured in an accident and that she had taken the animal to a veterinarian who told her the horse was dying. Vail said she elected to just let the horse die, according to the criminal complaint.

With Vail’s arrest, the Humane Society was tapped to care for the rescued animals.

“Everybody was in rough shape,” Keup said. They were dehydrated and malnourished, but are improving with the support of the community.

“We have had a great response, but this is a huge need,” Keup said. “How do you prepare for something like this?”

The horses need their teeth floated and hooves trimmed; all the animals need vaccines. Just keeping them fed is a costly endeavor.

“Five horses eat a lot,” Keup said.

Dan’s Feed Bin of Superior is lending a hand to care for what have been coined the “Friday Animals.” People can purchase needed items like hay, Purina horse feed, Purina dog and cat chow, gauze bandages, polo wraps and more, from the feed store at 806 Hammond Ave.

Customers will receive a discount on purchases for these rescued animals, and the items can be left at the store for pick-up; Dan’s Feed Bin will even deliver them if necessary. By Thursday, quite a few people had stopped by the Superior store to purchase items for the animals.

“I’d like to say thank you to everybody for their generous offers of help,” Keup said. “Once again, people of the community are coming together.” But, she said after Vail’s hearing Thursday, caring for the animals will be a lengthy process.

When asked if a third charge would be filed against Vail in the wake of the second dog’s death, Assistant District Attorney Richard Maes said he couldn’t speculate on any additional charges until reviewing reports.

Checks and monetary donations for the care of the animals are being accepted at Superior Animal Shelter, 138 Moccasin Mike Road, and at National Bank of Commerce under the Humane Society of Douglas County’s Rescue Account. Folks can help fund the animals’ care via Paypal, as well. A link to the account, as well as updates on the condition of the animals, is available on the Humane Society of Douglas County, Wisconsin Facebook page.

Mistreatment charges filed for animals found in trailer, U-Haul | Superior Telegram