Several animals removed from Santa's Land


PUTNEY -- The Windham County Sheriff's Department has removed several animals from Santa's Land.

Sheriff deputies executed a search warrant at the Route 5 theme park Sunday, and according to a press release several of the animals have been placed with other caretakers.

The sheriff's department was assisted by The United States Humane Society, Windham County Humane Society and the Putney Fire Department.

The Windham County State's Attorney's office is treating the seizure as an ongoing investigation and prosecution and is not releasing any more information at this time.

Lillian Billewicz, 56, the owner of Santa's Land, and her employee, Brian Deistler, 25, appeared in Windham County Criminal Court last week. They pleaded not guilty to five violations of their conditions of release for not following a written care plan provided for the animals by Dr. Tammy McNamara of the Vermont-New Hampshire Veterinary Clinic.

Billewicz and Deistler are facing six months in prison, and a $1,000 fine for each charge.

During the hearing, Windham County Deputy State's Attorney Susan Cay had requested that the Windham County Humane Society take possession of the animals.

Billewicz and Deistler were both arraigned on the charges of animal cruelty on April 29 following a March 1 visit by Windham County Sheriff Cpl. Melissa Martin.

Martin, during her visit found 18 dead animals at Santa's Land.

At the April 29 arraignment, as a condition of their release, Billewicz and Deistler were ordered to follow a care plan for the animals, which included providing clean water and adequate food, clean stalls and improvements to the living stalls.

But during a series of unannounced visits over the past few months Martin discovered a number of violations to the written plan.


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