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Woman Denies Condition Violation

Posted on Sep 7, 2007 - 9:25 AM
Rutland Herald
September 6, 2007


BENNINGTON A Readsboro woman facing a charge of animal cruelty was in court again on Monday after police said they learned she was keeping a dog at her house.

Catherine Oldham, 63, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the conditions of her release from custody in Bennington District Court on Monday.

Oldham was first cited on Feb. 1 on a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals by deprivation. Oldham pleaded not guilty and was released with a condition that she not possess any animals except for her two cats.

Police began investigating Oldham in February when they conducted a welfare check at her Bergrucken Lane home and noticed a strong smell of animal waste. Police said Oldham would not allow them into her home to check on the animals and their living conditions.

The animal control officer in Readsboro was notified in March by a neighbor of Oldham's who said Oldham was in the hospital, leaving the pets unattended. Police entered Oldham's home and found what they believed to be unsanitary conditions.

According to police, at least six dogs and several kittens were taken from the home after an agreement was reached with Oldham.

Vermont State Police Trooper Timothy Newton, who investigated the conditions which led to the cruelty to animals charge, said he went back to Oldham's home on Aug. 22 after receiving several calls telling police that Oldham had a dog at her home.

Newton said he saw a leash on Oldham's porch and paw prints and dog feces in her yard. When he knocked on Oldham's door, he heard a dog barking, according to a police affidavit.

Newton said Oldham admitted to having the dog but told him she was only holding it for a day as a favor to its owner, the affidavit said.

Newton said the dog was the only animal in the house that he believed was in violation of Oldham's conditions of release.

Bennington County Deputy State's Attorney Robert Plunkett filed a motion in August requesting the court order Oldham to forfeit the animals seized by the state. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14, but Plunkett said on Wednesday it may be rescheduled because of a conflict with Oldham's attorney's schedule.

A motion was argued on Wednesday in Bennington County District Court on Wednesday filed by Oldham's attorney, David Pollock, asking for some of the evidence against Oldham to be suppressed but no ruling has yet been issued in response.

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