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18 Animals Found Dead at Vermont's Santa's Land


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I simply just don't "get" stories like this. It's bad enough that the park seems to have had issues taking care of their animals, but then the animal caretaker was also arrested for possession of heroin. WTF is wrong with people?!?!

 

http://www.reformer.com/ci_25262008/18-dead-animals-found-at-santas-land?IADID=Search-www.reformer.com-www.reformer.com

 

 

PUTNEY -- Following the discovery by Windham County Sheriff's Department of 18 dead animals at Santa's Land, owner, Lillian Billewicz, 55, and Brian Deistler, animal caretaker, were both cited for animal cruelty.

 

They are scheduled to appear in court on April 29 to answer to the charge.

 

Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark said his deputies found 16 dead deer, as well as a dead pheasant and a pot-bellied pig when they arrived at the theme park on Route 5 Saturday.

 

There were also four deer unaccounted for, Clark said, adding all of the deer carcasses were found in one area.

 

The Windham County Sheriff's Department conducted a search of Santa's Land after Deputy Trevor Dickerman went there Friday to look for Deistler, who had lost his license plate in a minor traffic accident. Dickerman went to Santa's Land looking for Deistler to return the plate.

 

"When he was there Friday things just didn't look right," Clark said.

 

Windham County Sheriff deputies arrived at around 5 p.m. Saturday, assisted by Putney Animal Control Officer Henry Farnum and Putney Health Officer Tom Goddard.

 

Farnum declined to comment on the case Monday.

 

A veterinarian was also called in to assess the situation. The vet established a feeding and care plan and Billewicz will be allowed to continue housing the rest of the surviving animals, which include donkeys, ponies and goats.

 

"A care and feeding plan has been developed. At this point we are comfortable allowing the owner to keep the animals if the proper care is provided," Clark said. "There will be additional follow up to make sure the animals are cared for from this point forward."

 

Clark said Billewicz and Deistler will also likely receive civil tickets for animal cruelty and it will be up to the Windham County State's Attorney office to decide what charges will be filed.

 

Billewicz, who lives in Fairhaven, was not on the premises Saturday, but she did arrive at Santa's Land Sunday and is addressing the situation. She did not respond to an e-mail message from the Reformer on Monday morning.

 

On the Santa's Land Facebook page Billewicz said staff at the park knew about the dead deer and called in a veterinarian. She also said following the raid that the vet only recommended that the donkeys and ponies should have their hooves checked, and that the ponies should have a dental exam.

 

"The harshness of the winter has taken its toll but please be assured all animals are being fed, watered and sheltered appropriately," Billewicz wrote on Facebook. "We will continue to keep everyone informed about what transpires."

 

Billewicz purchased the Putney roadside animal and theme park this summer and opened it in July. Santa's Land was open, mostly on weekends, up until Christmas. Billewicz filed a permit application with the Putney Development Review Board this winter to re-open the Igloo Restaurant, which had been closed for a number of years. Billewicz announced earlier this year that Santa's Land would open for the season on May 24.

 

Santa's Land opened in 1957 and has had a number of different owners through the years.

 

The Windham County Sheriff's Department is looking for additional information on the conditions of the animals at Santa's Land. Anyone who can offer information is asked to call the department at 802-365-4942.

 

In an unrelated case, Deistler was arrested on Feb. 4 by the Bellows Falls Police Department, allegedly in possession of 20 bags of heroin. He has not yet been arraigned.

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In an unrelated case, Deistler was arrested on Feb. 4 by the Bellows Falls Police Department, allegedly in possession of 20 bags of heroin. He has not yet been arraigned.

 

And yet he still had his job, WTF?!?!

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In an unrelated case, Deistler was arrested on Feb. 4 by the Bellows Falls Police Department, allegedly in possession of 20 bags of heroin. He has not yet been arraigned.

 

And yet he still had his job, WTF?!?!

Welcome to 2014 society!

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Sad to hear this. Next time someone mentions Blackfish on Facebook, mention this story.

 

They're not a big enough "fish" for CNN.

 

These little Christmas-themed parks and zoos are always pretty dicey.

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I know these things happen (to put it very lightly), but that's very unfortunate. Since they apparently have to let them keep the surviving animals for now, I hope the promise of follow-up is legit and helps get the issues resolved.

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To be fair to the park, it seems like a lot is going on.

 

The animal caretaker with the heroin... that's a big deal. But, to be fair, did the park know? If he wasn't yet arraigned, I can't imagine he came into work the next day talking up how he got arrested. Conceivably, they were not aware of this until now.

 

For the animals, if they were allowed to keep everything else, then it seems like some sort of work was going on there. If they truly called the vet to come in and look at the deer, it could be a case of the extremely harsh winter, it could be a disease that they were striken with, or something else. Obviously, it sucks, but if it happened very quickly they might have done everything they could have. It could be an issue where the new town isn't so happy with the new owner and is making life more difficult for them because of that.

 

My ONLY thinking on that is just that they stated they could keep the rest of the animals. Seems to me that if you are truly being cruel, you don't get to just keep the rest of the animals.

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^ I'm not trying to be "unfair", but you have to admit that this sounds a bit sketchy. Animal caretaker with 20 bags of heroin and 18 dead animals. You can only give that the benefit of the doubt so much.

 

Sorry, but I'm human, I'm going to be skeptical.

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While, yes, the harsh winter may very well have done in these poor animals, it seems a bit odd that the owners would've let 18 corpses accumulate before calling in animal control and a vet.

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^ I'm not trying to be "unfair", but you have to admit that this sounds a bit sketchy. Animal caretaker with 20 bags of heroin and 18 dead animals. You can only give that the benefit of the doubt so much.

 

Sorry, but I'm human, I'm going to be skeptical.

 

I get being skeptical, and I wasn't say that you were being unfair. Just that the article seems to be written in a way to put the park in a very bad light. Using the same information, it could have been written in a different way. In particular, I wonder if Billewicz lives in the area - it makes it seem like she does not, in which case this could have been a case of an in-over-his-head druggie unable to perform, but still putting up a decent front...

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Sad to hear this. Next time someone mentions Blackfish on Facebook, mention this story.

 

They're not a big enough "fish" for CNN.

 

These little Christmas-themed parks and zoos are always pretty dicey.

 

You're right. I don't like visiting these small dicey/dingy zoos and parks and try to only visit smaller/medium zoos if they are AZA accredited.

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You can't fire people these days because you will be sued. You have to let them go to rehab and other nonsense, then let them have their job back.

 

While you are for the most part right actually with the exception of the state of Montana the law in America is that employment is "at will" meaning that a business can fire someone at anytime and for any reason unless it's a protective class such as skin color for example. Read your company's handbook and/or the contract between an employer and employee and chances are they usually bring up "employment at will". However with that being said since most businesses have their own set of rules as to who gets fired or not plus add in workplace politics as a result many of times "questionable" employees unfortunately do keep their jobs while those who do work hard are usually the ones who are shown the door. I have seen this sort of thing many of times when I had spent almost 20 years working in the radio biz.

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In an unrelated case, Deistler was arrested on Feb. 4 by the Bellows Falls Police Department, allegedly in possession of 20 bags of heroin. He has not yet been arraigned.

 

And yet he still had his job, WTF?!?!

 

Allegedly is the key word.

 

The fact that he has 20 bags means he's probably selling, since heroin is broken down and sold into buttons. I'm surprised he wasn't charged with intent to distribute, unless the news got 'bags' confused with 'buttons', which could the case. Regardless, this is 'merica'. A charge isn't a conviction. The defendant has a right to prove himself innocent.

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