Crime & Courts

Harvard dog breeder sentenced to probation for animal cruelty

A 71-year-old Glenview man accused of operating a Harvard puppy mill, where five German shepherds died under his care, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.

Former mink farmer Jan Wolanin accepted a plea deal Wednesday from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his guilty plea to a single count of animal cruelty, prosecutors dismissed 11 counts of additional charges, which included aggravated cruelty to animals.

Officials were alerted about Wolanin’s dog breeding operation in July 2019, after receiving an anonymous tip. Animal control officers moved in shortly after and removed 42 German shepherds from Wolanin’s property at 18113 Route 173, Harvard, records show.

Wolanin kept the dogs on 40 acres of farmland, where they were denied clean food and water, according to animal control documents. Many of the dogs, aside from a litter of eight puppies, also had intestinal infections and untreated ear wounds.

The dogs ranged in age from one week old to 15 years old.

In addition to his probation sentence, Wolanin is barred from owning or caring for any animals. He also must pay more than $29,900 in restitution to McHenry County Animal Control and provide the judge with a written psychological evaluation before he can be released from probation, records show.

“Dr. Wolanin, a veterinarian, is experiencing a significant cognitive decline,” Wolanin’s attorney, Philip Prossnitz, said after court Wednesday. “A thorough psychological evaluation was performed prior to the plea and an appropriate disposition was devised. Nevertheless, there’s no escaping this is a tragedy.”

The McHenry County Department of Health previously confirmed that at least two of the dogs housed on the Harvard farm had been euthanized after they were removed from Wolanin’s property. The surviving dogs were either sent to nearby rescues or received continued treatment.

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