Police: Wisconsin shelter official gave drugs to people, not animals

Published On: Apr 04 2013 07:14:10 AM HST

The head of a local Humane Society is accused of ordering hundreds of prescription painkillers and giving them to people instead of animals.

Eilene Ribbens, executive director of the Sheboygan County Humane Society, appeared in court late Wednesday. The 59-year-old is accused of ordering 1,000 prescription painkillers in pill and liquid form, which were intended for animals, and then shipping them to family members.

"Her indication was the price of these pills had gone up recently and a family member had been going through tough financial times who had a dog that needed this medication, and that's what she said. We have no reason to believe she was selling these drugs to people," said Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco.

According to the criminal complaint, Ribbens ordered the painkiller, Tramadol, with her own money and shipped the pills to her niece and sister "out of the kindness of her heart" because her family couldn’t afford the painkillers for their pets.

Tramadol is not a narcotic, but according to Sheboygan police, it can be potent and is sometimes used by people.

Ribbens, who could get the pills for 10 cents each at the shelter, allegedly placed the order for the pills in July and gave special instructions for them to be placed on her desk at the shelter and not with the rest of the animals' medication, authorities said. It was a few months later when the pharmacy called to follow up on Ribbens' order that shelter workers grew suspicious.

In January, employees contacted police after finding the shipping receipts of the painkillers in Ribbens' name, but not locating the pills anywhere in the building.

Because of the alleged violations, authorities said the Humane Society's license could potentially be revoked.

"That concerns me as a resident of the county. This is really the only shelter we have in the county. They've been here for years and do a great job," said DeCecco.

Ribbens posted bail Wednesday, and is due back in court next week.


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