Monday, February 21, 2011

Animal Control is Out of Control - the continuing story

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM
To:“wes.mckinley.house@state.co.us”
Re: HB 11-1063


Wes:
I am writing to fully support this bill. I am unable to attend the listening meeting today however I would like to share my very recent story.

On Jan 27, 2011, I was convicted of Animal Cruelty and I am on one year’s unsupervised probation during which time I may not have care or custody of a horse. All of this is due to an over-zealous - angry - vindictive animal control officer. Here’s the story.
I am a long time volunteer (since 1992) with the Westernaires. I am a well respected instructor and horse trainer. In August of 2008, I was allowed to bring home a retiring 27 yr old red dun quarter horse named Waylen. He joined my other horses at the stable. He was suffering from heaves and needed to retire from the hard work at Westernaires. He was underweight due to the energy he put into coughing. I have many people who saw Waylen when I brought him to the stable who can attest to his bad shape. I weaned him off medication, cleared up his cough, and started getting him to gain weight. He was happy and bright eyed. He bonded very strongly with my daughter’s mustang mare. 


Dec 2009 - Dr Gary Pallaro - Golden Animal - came out as Waylen was down. Got Waylen through but Gary told me at that time Waylen had cardiacachexia - his heart was slowing down and it would hard to put more weight but if Waylen survived the crisis that I would not have to put him down but expect to have to make the decision in the next 9 months or so.
So I amped up Waylen’s supplements and grain amount and he gained some of the winter weight loss back.
Flash forward to March 2010. Officer Jim Riddle of Jeffco Animal Control came out to the Country Cottage Stable - 4705 S Simms - Morrison, CO in response to an anonymous call concerning a skinny horse. He did not cite me or leave notice - he just asked the stable owner for me to call.
I called the next morning - Officer Riddle was off - but I spoke extensively to the admin staff volunteering a ton of info. Officer Riddle called on Sunday - we had a great conversation - he asked me to send a copy of the vet ticket from Dec. I did and I thought the issue was done. Officer Riddle went on vacation and Officer Padilla got involved and decided to re-open the case.
Then everything changed. She would not accept my vet’s findings and demanded from the start that I have an independent vet come out. She called me “stupid” and went on a campaign to crucify me. 
April 2010 - the independent vets come out and determined Waylen has Equine Cushing’s and heart problems. He needed to be medicated with peroglide and free fed. They also determined he needed to have his teeth floated . No problem - I agreed and they power floated his teeth - which he hated and fought even though well drugged. The vets left and Officer Padilla grills me on what I know about horses - if I know what free fed means - etc. So I get the medication - which is not readily available and has to be mail ordered - I rearrange horses so I can free feed Waylen without the other horses getting so fat they can’t get through the gate. And I comply with everything they say to do. And Officer Padilla calls me regularly. I have a full time job and cannot spend 45 min on the phone 2-3 per week discussing how she feels about what I am doing. I am not big on the government being in your face constantly.
June 2010 - Waylen has gained weight - he is wasting a ton of hay - but he is free fed has plenty water - I have pictures - and we have a series of hail storms. Waylen is separated by being stalled in the loafing shed. So I let him out so the other two horses can get to shelter. Officer Padilla comes by and is angry that Waylen is mingling with the other two horses. That I have purchased a grass alfalfa mix instead of plain alfalfa. And she calls to let me know I am violating my agreement and I tell her the other horses need shelter also.
The next thing I know animal control seizes Waylen and charges me with animal cruelty (although they did not take the other horses). I surrender Waylen to Jeffco on July 1, 2010. At seizure Waylen 15 hand horse weighed 960. That is underweight but about 100 Ibs.underweight - not 400 Ibs underweight.
Aug - I go to a summons hearing - the DA offers me jail. So I plead not guilty and get an attorney. Then the stakes go up and Officer Padilla and the DA are angry that I will not roll over and I have not been in awe of their knowledge or power.
Oct 2010 - I have an appearance and the DA will not offer anything. I have no criminal record, I have been in the horse world 40 years, I have proof that Waylen had improved under my care, I have witnesses, I have written a book on horse care and Waylen is 29 year old, well used, tired old man. A Westernaire horse is never abused but they are worked and worked steady for years and years.
Nov 2010 - DA decides to offer a deferred sentence.
Dec 2010- DA changes mind and offers one year probation with conditions that Animal Control can visit my other horses regularly and if they are not happy with the care my horses receive then I go to jail. Well in Aug I had sold one horse. And after I saw the conditions, I sold my other horse as I just knew Officer Padilla would be looking for any excuse to violate me.
Jan 27, 2010 - went to court and it took over two hours to do a plea that should have taken ten minutes. Officer Padilla was very angry that I have no horses. She argued about Jezebel who has been moved to a different stable - which she knew - how she knew I have no idea. Jezebel is not mine - she belongs to my 28 yr old daughter. And she was just beside herself that she could not get in my world about Jez. We argued about what is care (could they say I had care of a horse when I am in the arena teaching at Westernaires) it was a mess.
Anyway I have been a victim of an Animal Control Officer who would not settle for my vet’s care (long time large animal vet), did not like the fact that I dared to disagree with anything and that I was doing everything MY vet said and what their vet said and I wasn’t calling her daily with reports. I got to where I didn’t want to talk to her. I am sure she would have preferred that I had been drawn and quartered and buried under the Jeffco Jail. This was a nightmare. Animal Control would not accept the diagnosis and care instructions of a well established long time large animal vet. Golden Animal also cares for the Westernaire horses and has been my vet for the last 10 years.
How can they ignore evidence and expert opinions to pursue their own agenda? I have all of my documentation - discovery - photos - etc. With all of my heart, I want to THANK YOU!!! for pursuing this. Through the last year my horse friends have been appalled and also scared that their old retired horses who are just hanging out, eating, enjoying the sun are going to get seized etc.
We should be able to enjoy and love our pets and livestock whether we have livestock for pleasure or profit without feeling scared to death the animal control is just waiting to swoop in and ruin our lives based on their opinion.


Best Regards,
Betsy Keyser

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I think the letter by Betsy is harrowing indeed. But she does not specify from what agency Officer Padilla comes. Is she with Jeffco Animal Control? Where did she come from? Why did the other officer, Jim Riddle, cede complete control of the case to the other officer?

    This does not seem to address the "problematic" parts of Wes McKinley's bill, particularly Section 7.

    I think proper training by ALL officers enforcing animal safety is paramount, but personal anecdote does not seem to be the best basis for eliminating ALL participation by outside agencies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous8:00 AM

    I'd love to hear the other side; see what documentation there is. Otherwise, this sounds like a typical "I only had two beers, officer, I don't know why your breathalyzer shows me at twice the legal limit ...", followed by the usual whining in the community about jack-booted thugs arresting people for no reason.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous12:04 PM

    McKinley is the same idiot who last month fought and won a battle against outlawing the horrific blood sport of horse tripping. Now he claims animal control shouldn't be permitted to investigate animal abuse on ranches. As a long time Colorado horsewoman, I think McKinley's just a jerk who lobbies on behalf of other jerks. I am relieved this measure failed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:35 AM

      I have had a bad experience with this person who is being investigated....I side with animal control.....

      Delete