Man cited in fatal shooting of Tunbridge dog is suspended from animal control officer role in Sharon

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2022 9:51:56 PM
Modified: 5/16/2022 9:50:10 PM

SHARON — The man charged in connection with the shooting death of a family’s pet dog in Tunbridge has been suspended without pay from his part-time job as an animal control officer in Sharon.

Damon Dyer, 31, of Tunbridge, is scheduled to be arraigned on one count of cruelty to animals in Orange Superior Court on June 29 following an investigation by the Vermont Warden Service into the April shooting death of an 11-year-old German shepherd.

On Friday at a special meeting of the Sharon Selectboard, members met in executive session and then voted unanimously to suspend Dyer without pay pursuant to town’s personnel policy.

The board was scheduled to meet again on Monday night, and there was another session behind closed doors scheduled, “regarding evaluation or discipline of an appointed employee.”

It wasn’t clear if the executive session had anything to do with Dyer. The board did invite Deb Jones, Sharon’s finance manager who handles human resources for the town, to attend.

Reached by phone Monday, Jones said she couldn’t discuss Dyer’s case, but she pointed to the section of the personnel policy cited by the Selectboard when issuing his suspension.

Paragraph 8.1.12 of the policy: “Conduct that impairs the efficiency and effectiveness of town government, or which could cause public mistrust of an employee’s professionalism.”

“It has to do more with how much the conduct is related to one’s position,” Jones said.

She said Dyer had been appointed in mid-March as animal control officer, an on-call, part-time position that pays $30 per hour.

Jones said the job does not require the employee to live in town and Jones said nobody in Sharon stepped forward when the position was advertised.

Owner Steve Mortillo said the German shepherd named Scout was last seen April 20 when she was let out and didn’t return.

Mortillo found Scout’s body April 23 about 400 yards away from his Russel Road home on a pile of livestock carcasses.

Meanwhle, Sgt. Jeff Whipple, who covers the Fairlee area for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department said Monday much of the debate on social media about the incident has been off the mark.

Whipple, who conducted the investigation, said the shooting wasn’t a malicious act, but neither was it a clearly defensible action to protect the herd on the farm where Dyer works as the farm manager that was adjacent to the dog’s home.

Some have claimed the dog was shot while chasing cattle, but in reality the dog was shot while sniffing around a pile of animal carcasses several hundred yards from the cattle, which had been put up in the barn prior to Dyer walking across the field and shooting the dog.

“When the dog was shot she was not harassing anything,” Whipple said. “The dog had pretty bad hip dysplasia and was an elderly dog. She was sniffing around a carcass pile.”

Scout was not wearing a collar and was on the carcass pile where coyotes had been shot in the past. Whipple estimated the shot to be about 125 yards or so.

Whipple said the charge is a misdemeanor and Dyer has taken responsibility and is remorseful.

Darren Marcy can be reached at or 802-291-4992.

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