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Man named in fatal Tunbridge dog shooting suspended as Sharon’s animal control officer

Editor’s Note: This story by Darren Marcy first appeared in the Valley News May 16.

Steve Mortillo with his dog, Scout, in a photo he posted to Facebook on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Steve Mortillo

SHARON – The man charged with the shooting death of a family’s pet dog in Tunbridge has been suspended without pay from his part-time job as an animal control officer in Sharon.

Damon Dyer, 31, of Tunbridge is due on June 29 in Orange Superior Court on animal cruelty charges following an investigation by the Vermont Warden Service into the April shooting death of an 11 year old german shepherd.

At a special meeting of the Sharon Selectboard on Friday, members met in executive session and then voted unanimously to suspend Dyer without pay in accordance with city personnel policy.

The board was due to reconvene on Monday evening, and another closed session was scheduled, “regarding the evaluation or discipline of a named employee”.

It was unclear if the executive session had anything to do with Dyer. The council invited Deb Jones, the chief financial officer of Sharon, who manages the city’s human resources, to attend.

Reached by phone Monday, Jones said she couldn’t discuss Dyer’s case, but pointed to the section of the personnel policy cited by the selection committee when she was suspended.

It states: “Conduct that impairs the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal government, or that could arouse public distrust of an employee’s professionalism.”

“It has more to do with the extent to which the ride relates to one’s position,” Jones said.

She said Dyer was appointed in mid-March to animal control officer, a part-time, on-call position that pays $30 an hour.

Jones said the job didn’t require the employee to live in town and no one in Sharon showed up when the position was advertised.

Dog owner Steve Mortillo said the German Shepherd named Scout was last seen on April 20 when he was released and has not returned.

Mortillo found Scout’s body on April 23 about 400 yards from his Russell Road home on a pile of cattle carcasses.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Jeff Whipple, who covers the Fairlee area for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Monday that much of the social media debate about the incident has been off the mark.

Whipple, who led the investigation, said the shooting was not a malicious act, but neither was it a clearly defensible action to protect the herd on the farm where Dyer works in as farm manager; it is adjacent to the dog house.

Some have claimed the dog was shot while chasing livestock, but in reality the dog was shot while sniffing around a pile of animal carcasses several hundred yards from the livestock, which had been set up in the barn before Dyer crossed the field and fired. the dog.

“When the dog was put down, she wasn’t harassing anything,” Whipple said. “The dog had very bad hip dysplasia and was a senior dog. She was sniffing around a pile of carcasses.

Scout was not wearing a collar and was on the pile of carcasses where coyotes had been shot in the past. Whipple estimated the shot at around 125 yards.

Whipple said the charge was a misdemeanor and Dyer took responsibility and is remorseful.

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