Sunday, February 20, 2011

Leave Law Enforcement to the Professionals

Rep. Wes McKinley's animal control bill (HB11-1063) committee hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm tomorrow. He expects a large turn-out in opposition due to the organized efforts of the "animal lovers", who, in my estimation, are missing the point.

The crux of the matter seems to be the use, by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which oversees Animal Control, of volunteers from third-party non-profit organizations as Animal Control officers. These well-intentioned folks are tuned into pet abuse (dogs and cats) but most have no experience in livestock maintenance (horses, cattle, sheep, etc.), especially with regard to "open range" ranching as properly practiced at many Colorado ranches. The rampant "human abuse" by out-of-control "officers" is well-documented.

Last year McKinley proposed a bill which would have required that the animal control officers be required to have more training. The response was that they couldn't afford better training, but the bill was defeated anyway. This year McKinley, and many horse and cattle owners, want the practice of using these deputies curtailed.

If the Police Department had a shortage of officers, would it be reasonable for them to deputized volunteers from the churches to perform the official duties? Would you want a religious zealot arresting you? The zealotry of the humane organizations is obvious, and they should not be empowered by the Department of Agriculture to perform the duties of properly trained officers.

Because many of the "investigations" are initiated by anonymous phone calls, the entire system is subject to abuse. In addition, even if the animal owner is found innocent, they end up with punitive judgments against them for the cost of impounding the animals. It's guilty until proven innocent, and that's not the way it's supposed to work.


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