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Abandoned Kittens Found in Recycling Container

Posted on Aug 28, 2007 - 1:40 PM
By BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff
Brattleboro Reformer

Friday, August 24
BRATTLEBORO -- Please, no more kittens and puppies.
That's the message from Windham Solid Waste Management District after workers Thursday discovered a pair of newborn kittens mixed in with a load of recyclables. One of the kittens died shortly after it was found, its skull fractured when workers unknowingly dumped it onto a conveyor belt used to sort through paper products. The other kitten, which has yet to open its eyes, was taken in by employee Dick Petrie, who has a litter of newborn kittens at home. He hopes the mother will adopt the abandoned kitten as her own.

"She'll take to it," said Petrie, who said he and his coworkers were stunned to find the kittens mixed in with the recyclables.

"What kind of person would do that?" he asked.

This was not the first time animals -- live or dead -- were found at Windham Solid Waste's building on Ferry Road, said George Murray, the executive director. Last Christmas, he said, "we got six black Labs with red ribbons tied around their necks."

The dogs were dead, apparently choked to death with the ribbons, he said.

"This was the last straw," said Murray. "We've been getting so much garbage and junk in the recycling containers."

And Murray said it's not because people are confused about what they can leave at the waste management district's 21 locations around the county.

"It's outright garbage," he said. "People don't want to pay the (disposal) fee."

Whoever abandoned the kittens could spend up to a year in jail and be fined up to $2,000 if convicted, said Cathy Barrows, Brattleboro's animal control officer.

"It's really sad to have to pick up young kittens and find one of them dead," she said. "Especially when there are resources to be taken advantage of."

Unwanted animals can be dropped off not only at the Windham County Humane Society, but at other shelters in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Barrows said those with pets they can't take care of should contact the Humane Society prior to dropping off the animals to make sure they have room.

For those who want to keep their pets but can't afford to have them spayed or neutered, she said, there is a state assistance program -- VSNIP, or Vermont Spay Neuter Incentive Program -- available that will get the animals neutered and give them their shots and a physical examination, all for $10.

One caveat, said Barrows, is that those eligible must be registered under some other assistance program, such as Section Eight, food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children program or the supplemental security income program.

Applications for VSNIP are available through Brattleboro's animal control officer or the Windham County Humane Society.

While the humane society has a contract with Brattleboro to pick up stray animals, to drop off an animal that can't be cared for costs between $40 and $50, said executive director Sue Caviola. Because the humane society relies on donations for its operating costs, it needs the drop-off fees to pay for vaccinations, examinations and spaying or neutering.

"We don't euthanize for time and space," she said. "They will stay until they find a home."

Those who need a hand with their pets should contact the humane society, said Caviola. "We would be happy to work with them," including helping to feed their animals with a food assistance program.

Issues such as animal abandonment have spurred the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force to consider establishing a statewide "cruelty response network" of trained police officers, animal control officers and humane society personnel to be available to help out in animal cruelty incidents.

"Disposal of animals is an ongoing problem," said Joanne Bourbeau, spokeswoman for the task force. "It's against the law and there's also no reason for it. Animals are not trash to be thown out."

Animals in the recycling bins is only one of the problems for the waste management district, said Murray.

"We do not want the garbage, deer entrails, fish, cut-up fiberglass hot tubs, car fenders, plastic swimming pools and insulation," wrote Murray, in a letter to the Reformer. One recycling spot in West Brattleboro was recently closed down, said Murray, because it had become a dropoff for all kinds of garbage, and not just recyclables.

Bob Audette can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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