PUTNEY, Vt. (AP) — More than a dozen dead deer have been found at Santa's Land, a holiday-themed amusement park in Southern Vermont, and the owner and a caretaker have been accused of animal cruelty.
Sixteen deer carcasses were found in a pile outside of a barn at the park over the weekend, the Windham County Sheriff's Department said Monday, and caretaker Brian Deistler, 24, and owner Lillian Billewicz, 55, were cited to appear in court. A dead pot-bellied pig and pheasant were also found.
Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark told the Brattleboro Reformer (http://bit.ly/1hH9zNs) that Deistler and Billewicz will likely receive civil tickets for animal cruelty and that prosecutors will decide whether to file charges.
Billewicz wrote on the business' Facebook page that park staff contacted a veterinarian soon after the death of the first animal and all appropriate lab work was done to rule out disease.
"The harshness of the winter has taken its toll but please be assured all animals are being fed, watered and sheltered appropriately. Neither the caretaker nor myself have been arrested, rather we are cited to explain our side of this situation," Billewicz wrote.
Billewicz and Deistler could not be reached for further comment. No telephone listing could be found in either name. A phone number for Santa's Land was disconnected.
Billewicz will be allowed to keep the remaining animals, which include donkeys, ponies and goats, after a veterinarian established a feeding and care plan.
The Billewicz family acquired the park and reopened it last year after learning that the 54-year-old attraction was closing.