On April 13, 2016

Investigating animal cruelty

Investigating animal cruelty

By Stephen Seitz

BRIDGEWATER—The FBI has added cruelty to animals on its list of felonies, just as the Vermont Volunteers for Animal Services Humane Society (VVSA) has entered into a contract to investigate these crimes in Windsor County.

“We have a designated officer,” said VVSA Executive Director Sue Skaskiw, “but we need $25,000 for our contract with the sheriff’s department.”

Windsor County Sheriff D. Michael Chamberlain said that, currently, Deputy Robert North meets with the VVSA once a week to discuss and investigate cases.

“Everything goes through Sue,” Chamberlain said. “They meet and see if there is a complaint that needs to be looked into, and go from there.”

Chamberlain said his department would like to do more, but the funding is just not there from either the state or the county.

“We don’t have those budgets,” Chamberlain said. “As for the current contract, there is no set end date. It may grow from one day a week to two days, and I think it could be a full-time position one day.”

Currently, VVSA and North are pursuing two cases, one of which is against dog breeder Frank Kendall, of Baltimore, Vt.

“Frank was issued two tickets for inadequate shelter space and poor sanitation,” Skaskiw said. “He and his wife have agreed to make improvements.”

For his part, Kendall said he was being harassed and treated unfairly. He said he has been breeding dogs for nearly 60 years, and that he was complying the best he could.

“Sue is trying to put me out of business,” Kendall said. “Those dogs are well cared for. I’ve voluntarily cooperated with the humane society in Springfield and released several dogs to them to keep the numbers down.”

According to the FBI, moving animal cruelty to its own category of felony crime gives the crimes a higher profile. The National Sheriffs’ Association pushed for the inclusion, according to the FBI statement.

“The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes — most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the ‘Son of Sam’ killer David Berkowitz,” the FBI said in a statement. The organization also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse.

VVSA would like to raise the $25,000 it needs for the sheriff’s contract in about three months. So far, Skaskiw said, the organization has raised about $3,000.

Current plans are to hold the fourth annual VVSA golf fundraiser at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington on June 3. The event is sponsored by the Summit Lodge. Registration begins at 12-noon, with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Players pay $100, which includes green fees, a cart, lunch on the course and dinner after the tournament, among other things.

Other activities at the fundraiser include a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle.

Skaskiw said VVSA is very grateful to Billy Bauer, who recently sold the Summit Lodge after 39 year at the helm.

“He’s been so generous to us,” Skaskiw said.

Further information on the VVSA, including its programs and how to donate, can be found at its website, vvahs.org.

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