About 30 abused animals were found at a home in St. Johnsbury. Close to 20 were dead due to apparent starvation and dehydration. WCAX News has learned the home is owned by Lois and Louise Young. The Humane Society says the conditions the animals were living in were deplorable.
"They died because they couldn't eat. They couldn't drink," said Pat Mitchell of the Elizabeth Brown Humane Society.
After an anonymous complaint to the sheriff's department about a neglected horse, a deputy went to investigate.
"Finding some dead animals indicating that we needed to get a search warrant," said Deputy Adam Bergeron of the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department.
Police and the Humane Society arrived at the scene and were able to rescue 11 animals, including ducks, dogs, goats, a cat and a horse. But up to 19 others were discovered dead in the snow.
"Counting the dead animals and it was just... you just had to stop and take a breath and knew you had to get the live ones out," Mitchell said.
The surviving animals were found both inside and outside of the house. Mitchell hopes the court will give custody of the animals to the Humane Society.
"They're all in a safe place being taken care of," Mitchell said.
The investigation into the animals' owners is ongoing. Police say so far there are no arrests or charges. And they're not saying if the Youngs owned the animals. But again, they own the house.
Bergeron described the scene as "gruesome" as he recovered the animals' bodies.
"Being held as evidence and will remain so throughout the duration of the case," Bergeron said.
Mitchell says she's never experienced anything like this and hopes never to do so again.
"It breaks my heart," she said.
Thankfully the rescued animals will now be well fed and have a roof over their heads.
The Elizabeth Brown Humane Society asks if you see signs of a neglected animal to please contact your local animal shelter or police department.
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