The town of Orrington, Maine has one ACO on the payroll. Until September 10, that ACO was Carla Damon, who was reportedly on the job for many years. She resigned in lieu of being voted out by the town’s selectmen after receiving a summons for animal cruelty.
Responding to a complaint about the conditions of Damon’s herd of ten goats, an animal welfare agent with the state gave her a list of items requiring immediate attention on September 3. One of the items was a requirement to have a vet examine the herd within five days. Since one of those five days was a holiday and since there is a shortage of vets in the area according to Damon, she thought it was unlikely she’d be able to arrange a visit.
Damon frequently volunteered at events to educate the public about small livestock husbandry. Presumably one of the responsibilities she explained to people was the importance of having an established relationship with a vet, which is often helpful when emergencies arise which require immediate veterinary care. I don’t know if Damon had a relationship with a vet for her pets but it doesn’t sound like it.
At issue with the animal welfare agent were some housing deficiencies and the care of three particular goats:
“There was a long list of things that needed to be corrected, some structural things and some complaints about lack of care and lack of feeding because I had two that were a little on the thin side, but they were older goats that had been bred every year,” Damon said in a telephone interview.
One goat was 16 years old and the other 13, she said. Another goat had a slight nasal discharge that could have been treated with an antibiotic.
Could have but wasn’t, apparently. The other seven goats were described by Damon as “fat, healthy and sassy.”
So maybe no regular vet and maybe it might be hard to get one over a holiday weekend so – what to do? Instead of getting on the phone and trying to get a vet to see the goats, perhaps explaining that she’s the town ACO and would really appreciate being worked in on short notice as a professional courtesy, and/or asking the state inspector for an extension (“I couldn’t get a vet visit before the 8th but I have one scheduled for the 9th, can you work with me?”) or taking three seconds to think up any other reasonable thing, Damon came up with this plan:
“So I looked at the animal welfare person and said, ‘So, I do have the right — and correct me if I’m wrong — to destroy my own animals because if I destroy my animals, there is no longer a problem?’
The state inspector reportedly agreed that Damon had the right to kill the goats.
“So it was with a heavy heart that I chose to put down animals that I brought into this world because a lot of them, I helped deliver,” she said[.]
Damon said she would have preferred to have the goats processed for meat but she was unable to find an opening before late December.
Some of the goats were buried and others became coyote bait, she said.
Damon says she “sat down and bawled” after killing her pets. Whom she cradled at birth. Whom she would have liked to eat. Whom she left to rot as coyote bait.
Regarding the town’s request for her resignation:
She said that she was asked to leave the post “because of things that went on in my own personal life regarding the goats. They do not feel it looks kosher for an animal control officer to be reported and to possibly be facing animal cruelty charges, regardless of the fact that they were my own personal animals.”
Uh, regardless? I was thinking especially because. The town’s enforcer of animal cruelty statutes thinks she should be above the law apparently.
“I feel that what I had to do to my own animals should not reflect upon how I treated other people’s animals in my line of work as far as being the animal control officer,” she said.
So I see on your resume that you have had your parental rights terminated for beating your kids but you believe you’d be a good fit for our daycare center?
The parting shot:
Now that she has lost her job, she might have to downsize her flock of 16 chickens, she said.
And by downsize, I assume she means
rehoming to greener pastures something awful.
The last AC call that Damon appears to have responded to is a bizarre and tragic bite report involving a man who hanged a ten month old puppy after Damon left his home then called her back to come pick up the body. The incident was later reported to the sheriff by another resident of the home, not Damon. I can’t help but wonder what counsel she offered in that case.
Damon is scheduled to appear in court on October 15 on the animal cruelty summons (the same date the puppy hanger is set to appear). She has not been charged for killing her pets. The town of Orrington is currently looking for a new ACO and having police officers perform those duties in the interim.
(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)