2 Vermonters charged with animal abuse in dog death

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SWANTON, Vt. (WCAX) "Disbelief. Disgust. Anger," Lt. David Kachajian said.

That's how Swanton Police and neighbors describe what happened at an apartment on Depot Street. Roscoe, a pit bull/lab mix, was allegedly left there to starve by Kevin Cosgrove, 26, and Brittany Weston, 24. They face felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. Kachajian says police first got a report about the dog's condition Wednesday.

"The house was basically surrounded by trash and garbage. I wanted to see if I could look in a window, and I had to climb over the garbage and some furniture. And there was just a lot of, it was really disgusting for lack of a better phrase," Kachajian said.

Swanton Health Officer Daniel Billado says the smell from the apartment was overwhelming.

"I told them I was waiting for a respirator because it was so bad outside, I didn't know what I was going to get into inside," Billado said.

Billado says he found the dog inside a locked bedroom. Police estimate Roscoe had been abandoned around mid- January. He was so hungry, he had eaten part of a foam mattress. Police estimate the dog died just days before officers arrived. But police say it wasn't starvation that killed Roscoe. He was hit over the head.

"The dog did have a very deep laceration on its head that penetrated the skull," Kachajian said.

In January, ice jams sent the Missisquoi River over its banks in Swanton, destroying several homes.

The owners told police the dog drowned in the flooding but police say there is no evidence of flooding on this property.

Cosgrove and Weston face felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Neighbor Bryanna Bushey says she's shocked.

"From what I saw, the dog looked happy and well taken care of at that time. But that was way before, like three or four months ago," Bushey said.

Between the rushing river water, the loud intersection and the other dogs in the neighborhood, Bushey says she never heard barking from the apartment.

Police say this should have never happened.

"They could have turned it into the humane society," Kachajian said. "Anything like that, it's just frustrating that a senseless crime like this had to happen."

"That dog died a cruel, mean death," Billado said. "And I hope these two individuals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

The dog's body may still be in that house. Here's why: The health officer says it's the tenant's responsibility to remove the dog's body and give police a cremation receipt. But there are warrants out for their arrest on different charges, so that may not happen.