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Member Of Group Feeding Animals At Santa's Land Cited For Tresspassing

Susan Keese
Santa's Land in Putney has been closed since December.

A member of a group that’s been protesting alleged animal mistreatment at Santa’s Land in Putney has been cited for trespassing.

Sarah Massucco received a citation Friday from the Windham County Sheriff’s Office. She says the charge stems from efforts by her and a few others to feed the animals at the theme park, which has been closed since December.

In March, 18 of the park’s fallow deer and a few other animals were found dead. Others were reportedly undernourished.

"We're not exactly sure what our next move is, but we're not giving up on the animals." - Sarah Massucco

Lillian Billewicz, who bought Santa’s Land last year, has pled not guilty to animal cruelty, along with Brian Deistler, the park’s caretaker. The two were ordered to follow a veterinarian’s care plan for the animals while the case is pending.

Massucco says she and her group were throwing hay over the fence. She says she did enter the property once to feed some goats that were in a barn. She says the group stopped feeding the animals after a warning from the sheriff’s office.

But they haven’t stopped protesting outside the park.

“We’re not done. We’re not exactly sure what our next move is, but we’re not giving up on the animals,” Massucco said. The group wants to provide new homes for the donkeys, goats, ponies and other animals.

Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark says an officer is monitoring the park and the animals appear to be getting proper care.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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