View Full Version : Where to report abuse in Wisconsin?

07-04-2006, 12:14 AM
Hi to everyone. My name is Dawn, I'm new here, and glad to be here. I found this site while searching for resources on how to report abuse here in Wisconsin. I have been to the ASPCA website, but they have nothing at all listed for the state of Wisconsin.
I recently honeymooned in the Wisconsin Dells area. I work as an aquatics specialist/nutritionist here in Wisconsin, and my husband is a biologist. While visiting some of the "attractions" featuring a public aquarium and wild animal park, I was horrified at the condition of the animals. The aquarium housed hundreds of native game fish such as trout and salmon, but I could not find 1 single healthy animal at the aquarium. Beyond the obvious neglect shown in the facility with lack of tank maintenance and repair work, I was most upset to notice that EVERY fish in the place was sick, some so severely so that they will probably need to be humanely put down. Some of these poor fish had open sores covering large portions of their bodies, the eyes glazed over enough to resemble cataracts, and ick so bad they appeared to have been trapped in a snow storm.
Upon finding these conditions I spent an entire afternoon attempting to file a local complaint. The problem I have found is that there is no place to take a report. This same aquarium offers a fishing pond, meaning that these sick animals are being caught and used as food by tourists who may not even realize the risks involved.
I am in desperate need to find help for these suffering animals and to see some kind of neglect/cruelty laws enforced. Can somebody help me?
My last attempt to help a neglected animal resulted in a 4+ yr search for help, finally ending in a sudden change in the animal's environment. Because it took 4+ yrs I have learned that the trick to winning the battle is to be persistant and never give up. Once again I have taken a stand here, and will not stop until I find some kind of help for the animals in need. I would really hate to see this continue for 4+ yrs such as the last, but 4 yrs or 40 yrs, until I don't have a breath left in my body, I refuse to give up. I know that somewhere out there someone can help.
Any and ALL information offered to me will be of help and greatly appreciated, and I will follow through on ALL leads offered.
Thanks for your time and concern, on behalf of the animals,
Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist

07-04-2006, 07:27 AM
Hi Dawn and welcome to Animal Forum!

By the way you describe the fish, their care is all but perfect and something should be done.

If it were me, I would go back (or call) to speak with someone "high" up in the park. Discuss with them what you saw and your concerns. Is it possible maybe they got "hit" all of a sudden with these illnesses as a result of recent dirty rain storm? Maybe the problem isn't with their care so much as it is a cruel act of Mother Nature. They might be trying to correct the problem (although, if this were the case you'd think there would have been some kind of *warning* on the aquariums or that area closed off for now). Anyway. I'm thinking perhaps if you say something to them they'll get the matter cleaned up.

Otherwise......you can call and file a report with ASPCA or the national humane society. There is no ASPCA where I live but one of our rescue groups has a direct tie with them so the ASPCA would call them and thus starts an investigation. You can also call the local police department and ask them who you'd call to file a complaint of animal neglect and cruelty. They SHOULD either give you the right people to call or take the case and pass it along to the right people.

Good luck and please keep us posted!!!!

PS I don't remember Wisconsin Dells having an aquarium or wild life park--is this a fairly new thing?? I haven't been there in over 10 years. I grew up in Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls.

07-04-2006, 09:53 AM
Thanks for such a quick reply. I spent all night on my pc looking for phone numbers and such... I did get info for the Humane Society of the United States, for our branch office. I will be calling them first thing tomorrow after the holiday is over.
As for the conditions at this aquarium... The only person I saw around was the guy at the window taking money for tickets. As for an act of mother nature... that would have had nothing to do with the conditions of the indoor displays, which were most of them. A rain storm would not have caused the problems we saw. Over feeding, lack of cleaning, feeding the wrong foods or not enough of the right ones, and overall lack of care is what causes the things I saw.
My husband and I are in the retail fish business for our living, and have both been there for over the past 7 yrs. This is what my husband went to school for, got his degree, and we both are active on independent study. We like fish and we're always looking to learn something more. What we saw at this aquarium was obvious neglect to us because we understood what we were seeing, have seen it too many times before in other places/situations.
As for the Dells area having an aquarium, yes... they have 1. The wildlife park is now part of the addition for Storybook Gardens. At the wildlife park, not 1 animal had water. There was a baby zebra laying on it's side panting, the day was very hot, and no water anywhere. He was being stetpped on by the animals he shared an enclosure with, and seemed too weak to move out of their way. It was heartbreaking. Again, who to complain to? The park knew of this issue because there were plenty of workers around. I was told by one of them that the animals were fed and watered twice/day, so they were all fine. The food part is something I can't find a problem with, but they need water ALL the time. The whole place appeared to be falling apart with the exception of the animal enclosures, which appeared to have SOME maintenance.
I did visit the local Chamber of Commerce while I was there, and I have filled out a complaint form with them for the Storybook Gardens issues, however... they told me that the aquarium isn't registered with them, thus they have no power to do anything. The man at the Chamber of Commerce also told me that my complaint was not the first he'd heard, just seemed to be the first that someone wished to persue beyond the local authorities who can't help.
I will keep this board posted as I proceed, hopefully with positive results.
Thanks again for being so quick to reply.
Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatic Specialist/Nutritionist

07-04-2006, 11:50 AM
It's cool that The Dells are expanding more to just a water park. It's not cool that the expantion is at the cost of these poor animals. =(

I understand what you're saying about it being a result of the workers themselves. I didn't mean to sound like you're opinion was wrong or anything. I was just throwing things out there. If you honestly feel (and I trust your opinion) that the fault lies with the employees, then yes, go after a prosecution!!! and more power to you!

My opinion would be don't stop when you think you've found the right place to complain. I mean, if your local HS says yeah we'll investigate don't stop and wait for results. Keep calling other people and places. Definately send that email to the ASPCA (probably the one in New York would be best--I think they're the "big" one). Even if they can't do anything about the situation, they can probably tell you who can. So if nothing else, it's another lead to the right place.

I'll look for some information later and post back if I find anything. Maybe if we put our brains together, we'll come up with something.

PS I think you're right---food all the time isn't neccessary but water needs to be ALL the time (even if it's not hot hot hot outside).

07-07-2006, 11:22 AM
As promised, I am back to keep you posted on my progress. I was able to file a report with the Humane Society of the United States. I found our regional branch online, and called them this morning. I was told that they would be sending someone out to investigate immediately at the aquarium as well as the Storybook Gardens/Wild Animal Park. I will be receiving a call once they have been there to check it out, and they promised to keep me informed of any/all progress made.
I'm jumping for joy at the moment, relieved that I was able to find someone interested in helping fish as much as other animals. This is a big step forward for my scaled friends.
I wonder just how many people realize the amount of neglect and abuse in the aquatic world??? I have taken a stand both at work and in my personal life to lend a helping hand to the animals that most people have forgotten. This will be a huge success for the fight.
Is anyone here familiar with where to go to help get laws enforced to include fish and reptiles where they aren't now? I have found that Wisconsin has little to nothing in it's laws to protect animals unless they are dogs, cats, and some reptiles... and wildlife. I am interested in persuing this further, but I'm not sure where to begin.
I am off now to give a call to the ASPCA to help ensure that the problem in the Wisconsin Dells is resolved quickly and efficiently.
Thanks again for any/all help anyone here has given.
Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist

07-07-2006, 02:52 PM
That's awesome news Dawn!!! What will happen to the animals if the case ends in your favor? Will they try to send the animals and fish to rescue groups or will they ultimately be destroyed?

I'm so happy to hear something is being done. That's excellent.

As for laws to protect other animals, depending on the situation you can probably "bend" current laws to protect non-mentioned animals. Any (good) attorney could prosecute to the fullest on laws already available. As far as making specific laws, you could start with a petition. Make it clear the reason for the petition, the who, what, where, when, how's basically, and pass it on to be signed. The more signatures the better. Then you'd turn it in to your mayor or governor for review.

It may not go anywhere at first, but persistence pays off in the end.

07-25-2006, 08:17 AM
Hi Dawn,

Just wondering if anything ever came of this? Have you heard anything from the investigators?? Let me know!

08-12-2006, 01:58 PM
Good for you Dawn! You too, DogLover!