BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - The owner of a holiday-themed park that has been the subject of an animal cruelty investigation has appealed a judge's decision to forfeit ownership of 24 deer.
The judge ruled last month that the owner of Santa's Land in Putney, Vermont, must forfeit the fallow deer and goats but that other animals including two elderly ponies, three donkeys, and a llama be returned pending the resolution of criminal charges.
The Rutland Herald reports that the judge found the state had failed to show that the other animals were suffering under owner Lillian Billewicz's care. But he said the deer and goats had been severely neglected. More than a dozen deer had died during the 2013-2014 winter.
Billewicz and caretaker Brian Deistler have pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges.
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