Woman pleads guilty in Bennington pit bull cruelty case

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BENNINGTON — A woman has been sentenced to home confinement for her part in the mistreatment of several pit bulls owned by an East Road man.

Kristen Walczak, 33, who has a Bennington mailing address, pleaded guilty June 9 to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals — torture, and 10 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals — deprive. She was given an 18 to 42 month sentence, all suspended except for six months of home confinement. She will also be on probation for three years, during which time she is not allowed to possess or care for animals.

The state dismissed four felony animal cruelty charges and five misdemeanor animal cruelty counts as part of the plea agreement.

On April 7, 2015, Dereck A. Jensen, then 38, pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 10 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals as part of a plea agreement where he would serve between four months and two years in prison.

According to police documents, Jensen and Walczak were engaged at the time. They lived in a home on East Road where Jensen kept a number of pit bulls, whose barking put them at odds with their neighbors and the town's noise and kennel ordinances. The town had seized over a dozen dogs from the property in 2014 because of noise issues, and after Jensen was evicted in September of 2015, 11 more were seized because of the town's kennel ordinance, updated specifically due to the East Road situation.

After taking the 11 dogs, police informed that Jensen was keeping nine more at a home on Coleville Road at the home of Walczak's relatives. They were in extremely poor health and, according to the police affidavit, appeared to be in a hoarding-type situation.

Five of the dogs had to be euthanized. Walczak told police she had not been aware of how bad their health had become and said Jensen feared taking them to a veterinarian because he was afraid he would be accused of arranging dog fights.

— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115


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