POWNAL -- A Bennington County Sheriff’s Department deputy has resigned following an investigation into allegations he shot and killed a neighbor’s dog.
Bennington County Sheriff Chad Schmidt said former Deputy Donald Loveland was placed on administrative leave in late August pending the outcome of a Vermont State Police investigation involving him. Schmidt said Loveland resigned Friday on his own volition.
Schmidt said it’s common practice to place a deputy on administrative leave when there are allegations of criminal misconduct. If no wrong-doing is found they are free to return to duty. He said this incident is alleged to have occurred while Loveland was off-duty. He said Loveland had been with the department since 2002 and mainly worked traffic details and prisoner transports.
Lt. Reginald Trayah, commander of the VSP barracks in Shaftsbury, said he could not confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigation.
Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said she is reviewing the investigation and could not comment further.
A message from Melissa Kilbride was sent to the Banner via email and was also posted on its Facebook page. According to the message, on Aug. 26 Kilbride was at a family gathering on King’s Way in Pownal, when a pit bull, Maxx, slipped its collar and ran off.
Kilbride said that a few minutes later two gunshots were heard, and the dog did not return. According to Kilbride, she and other family members went looking for the dog and went to Loveland’s home but did not make contact with him.
According to Kilbride’s message, she spoke to Loveland the next day and asked if he had seen the dog. According to her, Loveland said the dog attacked his girlfriend’s dog and killed three of his chickens, so he shot at it twice but didn’t think he hit it. She said she reported the incident to the VSP and was told that without a body it would be difficult to press charges.
According to a second message from Kilbride, 10 days after the alleged incident, the dog’s body was found in the woods.
Kilbride said in an interview the dog had slipped its collar before but there had been no problems, as the animal was friendly. She said the family had been getting progressively heavier-duty collars in an effort to curb the dog getting loose.
She said the animal technically belongs to her stepdaughter, Amber Kilbride, 20, but it lived at the home and was the family pet. According to Kilbride, police have the dog’s remains and are waiting to examine them. She said the body was decomposed when it was found. According to her, Loveland lives about 60 feet from their home.
Bennington attorney William D. Wright said he represents Loveland and was contacted after the incident by Loveland. Wright said he spoke to the VSP and offered to meet with them regarding the incident but as of Wednesday has not heard back from police.
Wright would not comment on details regarding the incident, but said that he intends to direct police attention to Title 20 section 3545 of the Vermont statutes, which he said allows a person to kill a domestic pet or wolf-hybrid when said animal is found "wounding, killing or worrying," another domestic animal.
"The ball is their court," said Wright. "We have offered to sit down with (police) and talk about this situation but they have not contacted us."