Dogs, cats lived in squalid conditions before rescue in Brookings

(Metro photo)

Three people each facing 35 counts of cruelty to animals

BROOKINGS — Flea infestations. Animal urine. Feces caked throughout the house. Soft spots and open holes in the floor.

These, according to a probable cause statement from the Brookings County State’s Attorney’s Office on Monday, were the conditions that 31 dogs and four cats were found living in when the Brookings Police Department executed a search warrant Friday on a residence in the 900 block of Tumbleweed Drive in Brookings.

“All of the animals had severe flea infestation with some of the dogs had visible sores, missing hair, and obvious signs of malnutrition that was likely caused by the flea infestation,” according to information in the statement.

The animals are safe now, in the care of the Brookings and Sioux Falls humane societies, but their living conditions were so atrocious that it wasn’t safe for BPD personnel to enter the residence unshielded. Per the statement, at least one Tyvek suit, along with an air tank and a breathing mask, were needed to safely investigate the premises.

Dr. Adam Benson, owner of Big Sioux Veterinary Care in Brookings, provided an update on the condition of the dogs and cats on Monday afternoon.

“We kind of assessed and triaged a little bit on the scene, and from there they were taken to the Brookings Regional Humane Society and then some to the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society,” he said. “The ones in Brookings I’m told are doing relatively well — kind of a sliding scale. The ones in Sioux Falls, I don’t know — they have another veterinary staff that’s dealing with them now.”

Three people — Debra Schulte, 57; Jordan Schulte, 26; and Brandon Schulte, 28 — were arrested Friday. Each of the three faces 35 counts of cruelty to animals, which is a Class 6 felony in South Dakota. 

How to help

Many people want to help the animals and their caretakers. But what can be done? Actually, quite a bit, and it can’t come soon enough.

A representative from the Brookings Regional Humane Society said the influx of animals would place a burden on the shelter and asked the community to remember the ongoing need for monetary donations, volunteers and foster homes for cats and dogs. 

Per its Facebook page, the humane society’s top needs are bleach, dish detergent and flea/tick/earmite treatment like Revolution, Nexgard and Frontline. They already have around 75 cats/kittens in their care and need clumping and non-clumping litter as well.

Anyone who wants to donate, volunteer or adopt a pet can contact the humane society at 605-697-7387 or via email [email protected]. Another contact point is

The humane society also noted on its Facebook page that the animals rescued Friday are not currently available for viewing or adoption while their medical needs are being tended to.

Watch for signs 

BPD Detective Adam Smith said sometimes there are clues that something might be amiss when it comes to animal welfare concerns.

“Anytime there are foul odors coming from residences, it usually is an indication something isn’t right,” he said in an email to the Brookings Register. “If someone is concerned about the care/living conditions of animals they can contact the community service officers/animal control and request a welfare check on the critters.” 

Benson shared some tips as well. 

“In general, overly thin animals. Poor hair coat and then any sores or wounds that aren’t healing or being addressed,” he said. “Significant lameness … on one of the limbs or an inability to walk or move correctly will be kind of the big red flags that maybe something is going on.” 

In Brookings, animal control can be called at 605-691-0201 or 605-846-4724. They’re also found on Facebook at Further information can be found at

— Contact Mondell Keck at [email protected].