Facebook post leads to animal abuse allegations - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Facebook post leads to animal abuse allegations

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Daniel Johnson can't remember a time when his family didn't have dogs. In fact, his grandfather raised hunting dogs and hosted the town's dog pound for a while.

"Yup, all the strays came here when he had the pound so, until we found the owners," he said.

And now his daughters have their own dogs, beagle mixes. They are teaching them to hunt rabbits. But recently a member of a national group called Dogs Deserve Better posted a picture on their website of the Johnsons' dogs chained outside in the winter weather. The postings turned nasty.

"If they were really concerned, my opinion is why don't they stop and knock on the door and say, 'Hey, I saw your dog shivering and why are your dogs being left out here?'" Elizabeth Johnson said.

A woman in Massachusetts saw that Facebook post and contacted her friend in Vermont who is an animal investigator.

"I called Windsor Police and responded immediately, and we went and looked at the property and the dogs," said Sue Skaskiw of Vermont Volunteers Services, Animals Humane Society.

She says she saw inadequate shelter for four dogs in the yard.

"We found four dogs chained outside. The dogs were in good condition but the shelter was very inadequate," Skaskiw said. "The dog houses were not insulated. They had matted down hay, but snow was on top of the hay from the dogs dragging it in. The hay was insufficient because the dogs could not bury down into it and they had no protective flap over the door."

According to state law, outdoor shelters must be insulated and must protect the dog from wind, draft, excessive sun, rain and other environmental hazards throughout the year.

The Johnsons immediately started making improvements.

"I am very OK with making any changes that need to be done," Elizabeth Johnson said. "Like I said, we just didn't know about the regulations, needing to have insulation all the way around."

When all the dog shelters are insulated, the inspector will be back.

"This was a good one, Judy, They were very cooperative. They said immediately they would go out and get sufficient bedding," Skaskiw said.

But Skaskiw says while Vermont has good laws to protect animals, more needs to be done.

"We have some of the best laws in the country, I truly believe that," Skaskiw said. "But it takes a group to make it happen. I don't have the ability to write a ticket; I have the ability to enforce title 13, chapter 8, but unless we have law enforcement willing to write a civil ticket."

And then have follow-up by the state's attorney's office to prosecute these cases. In the meantime, the Johnsons say they are now bringing their dogs inside on a rotating basis, and they have plans down the line to build a big kennel with fencing.

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