Animals seized from Santa's Land


PUTNEY -- The Windham County Sheriff's Department seized several animals from Santa's Land Sunday after executing a search warrant at the embattled theme park.

According to a press release from the sheriff's department, deputies entered Santa's Land to remove several animals.

The animals have been placed with other caretakers and no other information on their condition was released as of Monday.

The United States Humane Society, Windham County Humane Society, and the Putney Fire Department assisted with the seizure.

The Windham County State's Attorney's office said the case was an ongoing investigation and prosecution, and the office was not releasing any more information.

Santa's Land owner Lillian Billewicz and her employee Brian Deistler were in court Thursday for violating conditions of release after Windham County Sheriff Cpl. Melissa Martin discovered the animals living in unsafe conditions while conducting visits at the park in July and August.

Billewicz and Deistler were facing animal cruelty charges from a March 1 visit by sheriff deputies who found 18 dead animals at the park.

As part of their conditions of release Billewicz had to allow Martin to check in on the animals, and several times during the summer Martin found several animals with dirty water and little food.

Windham County Deputy State's Attorney Susan Cay on Thursday asked Judge Michael Pratt to allow the state to take possession of the animals, but the judge, who was filling in on the Windham County bench, said he wanted a full hearing scheduled before the state would be allowed to seize the animals.

It was not clear Monday why the Windham County Sheriff's Department seized the animals Sunday before the hearing was set.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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