Why dogs will stay with Vt. man accused of animal cruelty - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why dogs will stay with Vt. man accused of animal cruelty

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PERU, Vt. -

You can hear them barking from the street; 10 dogs living on David Sheen's property that the state has charged the 71-year-old Peru man with abusing. Sheen faces multiple charges related to animal neglect and cruelty. But his family says he's not doing anything wrong.

"He does everything that he should. He takes care of them two or three times a day, he waters them, he feeds them-- everything that he should do, he does," said Arlene Sheen, his daughter.

David Sheen is accused of not providing adequate water and shelter, and having his dogs on tie-outs that are too short. He has been charged with one felony.

"Allowing a female dog to give birth to 10 puppies in subzero weather outside," Bennington County Prosecutor Erica Marthage said.

The Bennington County Humane Society inspected the property as part of the investigation and says the conditions were unacceptable for the winter months.

"They have to have the proper shelter, suitable for the conditions to protect them from the elements that there are," said Ken Colombraro, an investigator for the Bennington County Humane Society.

David Sheen pleaded not guilty and says he has reduced the number of dogs from 17 to 10, by giving them to local animal shelters to be adopted. But even though the dogs were set to be seized Friday, there is nowhere for them to go. Second Chance Animal Shelter says it is at capacity, and even when it has room, these types of dogs present a challenge.

"They have acclimated to their life outside, which is really challenging and stressful for them to bring them into a kennel environment. Obviously housebreaking is an issue," said Sharon Burnett of Second Chance Animal Shelter.

For now, the dogs are staying on the Sheen property and Second Chance will check in weekly to make sure the conditions are adequate. They say Sheen has been cooperative.

Of the 10 dogs they have, the family says they're hoping to keep two or three for hunting.

What "adequate" living conditions for animals mean-- especially hunting dogs-- has been a topic of debate, with some people feeling that dogs should only live inside, while others feeling that there is nothing wrong with dogs living outside.

"We're still an agricultural game state," Marthage said. "We have a lot of individuals that still keep outdoor dogs."

Like the Sheen family.

"Things are OK," Arlene Sheen said.

Sheen's number of dogs keeps growing because they keep having puppies. Second Chance says they approached him and offered to spay and neuter his dogs for free, but he wouldn't have it. Second Chance says this is another cultural belief that Vermonters have strong opinions about.

Erica Marthage says the situation will be reassessed in 30 days.

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