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Kaden Branton’s efforts to sell her grandfather’s pottery went to the dogs.

One dog, actually — a bleeding, emaciated, gray-muzzled black Labrador retriever named Misty.

Kaden, 8, lives on a farm near Rio. Her family include seven dogs — a Great Dane, two hunting dogs, two Chihuahuas and two Basset hounds.

She could have put the $427 she earned from selling handmade platters, bowls and other pottery made by her grandfather, Thomas “Bud” Skupniewitz of Lake Mills, toward the adoption of the pug puppy that she wants so much, and for which she’s saving.

But Misty’s story, on TV, in print and on social media, caught Kaden’s eye and her heart.

For the handful of Columbia County people who may not have heard of Misty, here’s what happened to her:

On Jan. 21, a group of crow hunters found a duffel bag in the French’s Creek Wildlife Area in the town of Fort Winnebago. They saw the bag move. There was vapor coming from it, though it was zipped shut.

Inside was Misty, bleeding but alive.

The Columbia County Humane Society took custody of the dog, who determined to be an “older” animal, about 10 years of age. Portage Veterinarian Dr. Michael Cooper put 19 staples in her head wounds, and administered antibiotics and pain medication.

A Pardeeville woman, Terri Lynn Benson, 56, stepped forward to say she was Misty’s owner, and turned herself in to Columbia County sheriff’s deputies. She faces a felony charge of animal mistreatment and a misdemeanor charge of animal abandonment.

Misty now lives in a foster home in Columbia County. Although Cooper has diagnosed that a tumor on her chest is cancerous, Misty remains happy in her foster family’s care, and pampered with gifts from many people.

Including Kaden.

“I’m glad that I’m helping Misty and making her be better,” Kaden said.

According to Kaden’s mother, Jessica Skupniewitz, Kaden – a second-grader who is in her first year as Brownie Girl Scout – saw Misty’s story on TV and social media, and wanted to find a way to help her.

Her grandfather offered the pottery, made in his home and fired in his kiln, but she needed a place to sell it.

Jessica Skupniewitz said she learned on Facebook about the Craft/Vendor Fair that was held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 19 at the former Fashion Bug location, 2899 New Pinery Road.

Vendors were asked to bring a raffle item to contribute for attendees to have a chance to win, and a donation of requested items for either Portage Food Pantry or the Humane Society.

The planners, however, allowed Kaden to set up her booth without donating a raffle item, because she pledged 100 percent of her proceeds to the Humane Society, specifically for Misty, Skupniewitz said.

Whenever people came by her booth, Kaden would announce that all the money she made would go to Misty.

In addition to the platters and bowls, Skupniewitz said, a best-selling item was a yarn bowl, where an artisan or crafter would put a skein of yarn and feed one end of it through a hole, so that it wouldn’t tangle. Kaden brought two boxes of those to the sale. By day’s end, there were just four yarn bowls left unsold.

“Some people would buy something and say, ‘Oh, I’ll give this to a friend.’ They might buy three of them, then come back later for three more,” she said.

Kaden and her mother planned to bring the money to the Humane Society on Saturday.


Portage Daily Register Reporter