Humane Investigations

Homeward Bound is proud to partner with Addison County law enforcement agencies to address instances of animal neglect and cruelty.

Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviors from neglect to malicious harm. Most cases of cruelty are unintentional neglect that can be resolved through educating owners and providing some resources.

Intentional cruelty or abuse is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialization, or veterinary care; or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

The state of Vermont has specific definitions of animal cruelty, as well as a process for reporting incidents. To learn more about Vermont’s animal cruelty laws visit:

  • VT statutes: Title 13, Chapter 8 Humane and Proper Treatment of Animals
  • VT Statutes: Title 13, Chapter 9 Animals

As is often the case with laws, what we would like to see is not what the law requires. For example, it is legal in Vermont to leave an animal outside on a chain, day or night. The statutes dictate access to shelter, food, water and exercise as well as length of the chain, but not that the animal come in for the evening, even on cold Vermont nights. There are humane organizations, including Homeward Bound, that are working in Montpelier to continually refine the laws but often they leave room for improvement.

If you believe a situation involving an animal is in violation of the law, please file your complaint with the law enforcement agency that serves the town where the animal is residing. Usually this will be a municipal police department or the Vermont State Police. We will work with the law enforcement agency to provide support and care for the animals if requested.

  • Vermont State Police Department:  388-4919
  • Middlebury Police Department: 388-3191
  • Vergennes Police Department: 877-2121
  • Bristol Police Department: 453-2533

Contact Details