Friday, February 5, 2010

"Animal Control" Out of Control - Part 1

Representative Wes McKinley (HD64) is carrying a bill which would provide State standards for the training and bonding of animal control officers. The hearing room was packed with citizens testifying in favor of the bill as well as control officers and administrators speaking against the bill. Many of the citizens told horror stories of officers abusing their powers, threatening owners with jail and legal expenses, and taking actions of questionable legality. In short, out of control control officers.

Currently in Colorado, there are no uniform standards for the training and bonding of animal control officers. Often, cities and counties will contract with 3rd party non-profits, such as the Human Society, to provide these officers. Apparently these individuals often lack appropriate training.

Anna Pullaro and her now deceased husband, Sam Lopez, made the mistake of taking in sick and abandoned animals on their 125 acre farm outside of Pueblo. Because Anna's story is long and complicated, I've had to edit it down. Despite the complexities, what became clear to me is that without controls, some of the "humane" officers are, in essence, acting as an animal control gestapo, often seizing and then selling animals in order to provide funds for their organizations. These actions often wreck the lives of the well-intentioned owners.

The bill, HR 1124, was "laid over" for further discussion.

Editor's Note: Actually, none of this is too surprising considering this:
The Colorado Humane Society came under fire back in 2008 for claims of misusing funds in the shelter. These claims were directed primarily at the operators of the facility, Robert and Mary C. Warren, and staff member Stephanie L. Gardner. The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Gardner and the Warrens back in December of 2008, alleging that they, through the Colorado Humane Society, violated numerous provisions of Colorado law. Along with numerous other violations, the shelter’s operators were mismanaging funds with the charity and needlessly euthanizing  animals to make room for ‘more adoptable pets’.

As part of the settlement, the Warrens are barred from managing or operating charitable organizations for ten years and will not be able to operate any business covered by the Colorado Pet Animal Care Facilities Act for the next five years. Gardner was also barred from operating a charity for at least two years and operating an animal shelter for one year.

“The fact that the Colorado Humane Society is no longer in operation today is a testament to the mismanagement and poor choices of the organization’s former management,” Attorney General Suthers said. “This case should underline the reality that the managers of nonprofits throughout Colorado have a duty to manage their operations responsibly.” –


  1. manonfetch4:18 PM

    I deeply sympathize with Mrs. Pullaro on the loss of her beloved husband. However, the evidence in this case does not support her claims. The neglected and abused horses on her property were not horses she had taken in, in an attempt to help or rescue them. The horses fell into that condition under her care. Her claim that the horses were taken only because they were papered is not supported by the evidence of the vets involved, whose medical evidence supported neglect and starvation. The papers were not even part of the original casework. How were the officers supposed to take only the papered horses if they didn't even know which horses were papered? The horses were not sold, they were cared for at rescue and adopted, with the adoption fee going to help reimburse the rescue for some of the money spent to care for these horses. Ms. Pullaro's claims that she was in fact rescuing horses, that none of the horses on her property were neglected or in poor shape due to her own behavior, and that the horses were taken only for their papers so they could be sold, do not stand up. The physical evidence taken during this case does not support her claims. She also mentions the poor weather at the time; yet other Colorado citizens with horses and livestock were able to care for and feed their animals under the same conditions. Sometimes under worse conditions. The officers and court were carrying out their legal obligations, with the support of hard physical evidence. While I do sympathize with Ms. Pullaro on the death of her husband, I do not see how the facts can support her insinuation that his death was the fault of the officers and court. The situation probably aggrevated whatever medical situation he had, but it was not made up by the officers or court. It was created by the Pullaros.