A Benefit Concert was held on Saturday, April 7, at the Ice House in downtown Evergreen, to raise money for vet costs and proper feed for rescued horses: The concert was a success.
Emaciated horses at Echo Valley Ranch
The six horses were taken from Echo Valley Ranch in Bailey on Feb. 23 after Routt County authorities called the Park County Sheriff’s Office, said Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore.
Horse owners Ron Swift and Randal Hatlee have each been charged with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and will appear in Park County Court, Gore said.
Routt County officers were checking on a previously abused horse they had sent to the ranch and were concerned about the gaunt appearance of several horses. Park County sent code enforcement officers to investigate.
While other horses on the property looked healthy, six appeared to be underfed, according to Gore.
Since being taken into custody at undisclosed clinics, the horses have been doing well. They each gained anywhere from 10 to 72 pounds in 15 days, which points to the theory that they were underfed, Gore said.
“At this point (the horses) appear to be malnourished,” Gore said. “As we feed them and care for them, they are putting on weight.”
It has been learned that one of the horses named Maggie died. It has also been learned that these rescued horses were, by order of the Court, returned to the owners!! Ridiculous and unacceptable!!!!
In an email to the Attorney General, Ms. Courtney who organized the Benefit Concert writes:
“Severely neglected (photos available) horses were awarded back to Ron Swift, as per judge Green of Park County, yesterday.
We organized a highly publicized fundraiser to pay the vet bill to nurse these animals back. One died, another was found frozen on ground near death. Remaining horses were moved to undisclosed location vet due to high publicity.
First vet on site to assess the horses seems questionable at best, as second vet who was on standby clearly assessing these horses needed immediate help.Horses improved in vet care after seizure according to Monte Gore, Undersheriff Park Cty. These horses were dying in Swift’s care – we need help to protect them – they should never be returned to him under any circumstances.”
Chance one of six horses taken from Echo Valley Ranch in Bailey
On Behalf of these horses and Ms. Courtney, with her permission below has been copied and pasted word for word what she has to say:
Animals Petition: Park County, CO Judge Brian Green & Deputy D.A. Steve Sullivan: DO NOT RETURN STARVED COLORADO HORSES
Court date is May 15th, they must not be permanently returned, they will not survive the coming winter. Against all common sense and facts these horses were ordered returned like pawns for political vendettas or personal agendas. It is a disgrace. Those assigned to protect these innocents from further suffering and abuse ought to get a clue what their job duties are and remain. These horses just survived a terrible fate – and were returned to the same place where they were neglected. How is that for American common sense and professional integrity ??? Had the first vet, on whose presence Mr. Steven Sullivan, Park county Deputy District Attorney, so relies on… done her job and Swift fed/cared for the horses, we would not have this conversation.
Not sure what more evidence this District Attorney needs to see, as what the rest of the world sees in this mess is enough to make Park County a place of embarrassment, bloody cover ups and ignorance. I hope people up there wake up to the scheme that is played out and how defenseless horses have become pucks in a hockey game of blind poking matches.
Thank you Undersheriff and deputies for having seized the horses, as they would have surely died. One can only hope your continued baby sit services to monitor these horses at tax payers expenses will not be needed, as they ought to be relinquished to good homes who remember that domesticated horses can’t be reversed into “wild” ones, especially when fenced in.
Please sign the above petition and share. Thank you.
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/30876616/detail.html April 11, 2012 Horses returned
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/30486436/detail.html February 17, 2012
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/30687423/detail.html March 15, 2012
What is needed now is a public support campaign by Park county residents, constituents of the system deciding the fate of these horses.
1) The claim that a vet was on sight or having treated these animals prior to seizure ought to be scrutinized further, to a higher instance, which I believe is the State Veterinarian Board.
Email for inquiries/complaints: VeterinaryMedicine@dora.state.co.us
Catherine.Shea@cu.edu Attorney for Board 303-860-5658
(Shea, Catherine A. Senior Associate Counsel for Technology Transfer and Research Compliance)
The horses were found in ADVANCED debilitated state of neglect, which contradicts first ”assigned” vet’s competence, integrity or both, and also reflects a LACK of responsibility on Swift’s part to call said vet in due time to administer help and/or treatment http://pix.kg/p/416168114214%3A811361237/scl
(When horses were seized they improved thereafter immediately, see weight chart, photos available provided by Park Cty).
The above slide show photos show the 2 year old colt, weighing about 300 lbs. instead of 700 or more, who was hauled in on Feb. 16 under the Routt County impound. He wears a foal’s blanket in the slide show! The other horse to be impounded along with him by Routt County had already died. You can see the other horses in his herd at the end of the slide show may be in even worse condition.
2) Two veterinarians’ affidavit’s ought to be mandated in any case of advanced neglect, whether the claimed cause/reasons of found health status are illness, neglect or abuse. In a case such as this, where as doubt exists clearly based on evidence of photos taken of said horses showing their advanced state of neglect, the claimed fact of a vet having treated said horses prior to seizure (Feb.16) needs to be investigated, with said vet records being subpoenad as evidence. (Affidavit by other vet treating the colt impounded by Routt Cty. and on same property in same horrific condition, could be obtained for the investigation by authorities prosecuting this case).
3) Public knowledge and awareness of these inconsistencies existing within a system, whereas individuals assigned to carry out a job duty to protect said animals from further suffering, is a necessary tool to continue the momentum in the publicity this case has generated. Anyone knowing anyone residing in Park County ought to be contacted and inquired upon to lend their support to this campaign by expressing their concern in regards to the surrender to said horses back to the bad situation out of which they were rescued by Animal Control, who did their job in the nick of time to save these horses. One horse, to be impounded with the colt by Routt county, died, and the deplorable conditions of others in photos speak volumes and truth.
4) The fact that they were returned with “no probable cause” is not acceptable, as there is sufficient evidence (photos of their condition at seizure date), and a complete absence of common sense resulting in this mess. Animal Control has done its job by seizing the animals out of danger. For horses to be returned before criminal investigation is over and prior to said court date of May 15th is imprudent, reflecting a total lack of integrity on District Attorney’s part to carry out his job duties in what he is assigned to do.
5) A reminder to officials/decision makers in this case that the public is watching is the only hope these horses have.
The next goal is to find LOCAL support by residents of Park county, which requires all of us to find people who reside there, get them informed on this questionable conduct by a few within a system that has too long gone on unnoticed, get a public push to “clean house” before there is no animal welfare, civil rights, or due process left. Residents of Park Cty. can demand these horses not be returned permanently and to further prohibit Swift from having horses, as he seems neither capable nor willing to care for them, whatever may be the reasons. Probation or a misdemeanor is not going to prevent them from the coming winter or/and the consequences thereof.
6) Letters. Any contacts willing to join forces in a letter campaign prior to court date, please send them the photos attached. It does not take an Einstein nor a horse ”expert” to assess the evidence on these photos and horses’ debilitated advanced state of neglect, with Chance being near Henneke 1. The system needs reminding by the public what their job duties are, whom they serve and the public to demand them to be carried out with a public pressure campaign. I ask that you all get involved with this next step – find Park county residents to drum up support. I believe the D.A. is elected and I can only hope he will not get another term, if this injustice will be his responsibility.
In this time of age where political agendas and corruption reckon over the very welfare and protection of animals, and whereas some within a system simply fail to carry out their job duties, we as a people are the only hope for these animals. This case clearly reflects the need to carry on with our pressure. As the animals were seized under court order, I was told by Park County Animal Control that a judge from Canon City (Fremont Cty.) signed the court order. Since Deputy D.A. Steve Sullivan is in the position to push for justice and has apparently not done so, either by failing to present evidence or claiming a cause - the judge had no choice in this but to return the animals. So the problem may lay with the D.A. as it has seemingly been for a long time and he had no comment in this case to protect the horses. Park county perhaps too long has been a place of unnoticed injustices against animals - carried out by some with a fancy title, personal agenda or financial motives, yet ineffective to protect those they are assigned to protect and therefore become pawns of political agendas in the end. Since the Dept. of Agriculture, the Bureau of Animal Protection and its “professional agents” once again seem to conveniently stay out of the matter, I ask that you step up and continue to support this mission.
If court date of May 15th (Tuesday) stands for this case, a protest in Fairplay could be a step to lend our voices.
Attached: Links to photos
Photo of Little Big Man, seized by Routt Cty., and evidently in very bad shape
Horse body chart / Equine body scoring chart
Park Cty. Roster info for contacts
below a link to Henneke body scoring chart with photos
Prosecutors, probation officers, and police should always urge the court to make forfeiture of the animal victims part of the sentence imposed in a cruelty or fighting case. In some states, the court is at liberty to direct return of some or all of the animals to the owner even following a conviction. Laws should be drafted to require forfeiture as part of the sentence in all animal fighting cases and in most if not all cruelty cases.
Securing a conviction in an animal cruelty or animal fighting case is just part of the goal of the prosecution. Ensuring that animal victims are not returned to their abusers when the criminal case is over is equally important to ensuring a just and humane result in these cases.
Contacts for letters:
|Presiding over case:Brian Green
Park County Judge
300 Fourth Street
P.O. Box 190
Fairplay CO 80440
11th Judicial District Chief Judge
Charles M. Barton
P.O. Box 279
Salida CO 81201
Deputy District Attorney Steve Sullivan
136 Justice Center Rd., #203
P.O. Box 1206
Canon City, CO 81212
310 4th St.
Fairplay, CO 80440
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