WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Action is being taken against an animal control officer after the Connecticut Department of Agriculture seized more than 100 animals from a Beacon Falls farm.
Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo confirmed to News 8 that Patrick Dionne, the animal control officer for both Beacon Falls and the Waterbury Police Department, was placed on paid administrative leave when the department learned of the state’s investigation.
News 8 contacted the police chief of Beacon Falls, but we have not heard back.
The state seized 99 sheep, 15 cats, and a goose from the Lopus Road property on Feb. 24. They also found five adult sheep and two lambs dead on the farm. Karen Lombardi, chief animal control officer for Woodbridge Regional Animal Control, told News 8 the conditions were “unbelievable.”
According to the Department of Agriculture, several animals needing heat lamps were shivering during the inspection. The hay bedding on the farm was damp, which made it impossible for animals to maintain their body temperature. The warrant also showed the animals had an excess growth of wool that was causing skin conditions and bald patches. Some animals were also developing lameness due to overgrown hooves. Many sheep also had not been shorn for several years.
“We were recently made aware of an investigation involving the Beacon Falls animal control officer, Patrick Dionne, who’s also employed by the Waterbury police department as an animal control officer.”
Waterbury Police Lt. Ryan Bessette said Dionne has been placed on paid administrative leave.
“We made the decision to put him on paid administrative leave here as we gather additional information regarding his involvement, what actually occurred there in Beacon Falls, and make a determination of any next steps that need to be done here,” Bessette said.
Dionne’s employment status as an animal control officer for Beacon Falls is unclear at this time.
The Beacon Falls town’s attorney said he would not comment as the matter is pending investigation.
The rescued sheep remain in the care of the Department of Agriculture’s rescue and rehabilitation facility located within the Department of Corrections in Niantic, where they are being evaluated and treated.
The 15 cats and goose are in the care of the Woodbridge Regional Animal Control, one of the agencies that responded to help.
“It was one of the situations where you don’t want to see but it’s our job to get the animals out there and into a better situation,” said Jessica Moffo, Woodbridge Regional Animal Control Officer.
The removal of animals is a last resort for the Department of Agriculture. The department usually works with the owner to improve their standard of care. Resources and support for homeless animal owners can be found by calling the Department of Agriculture at 860-713-2500.