In an ironic twist, Colorado animal activist Ellen Kessler is charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. A court summons orders Kessler, 72, to appear on May 23 to face the animal cruelty charges.
Kessler was a member of the Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine until she resigned earlier this year. Her exit came after an exchange of Facebook posts in which Kessler called Colorado’s farmers and ranchers “lazy and nasty.” She was exchanging comments with Marion Reis of Boulder who is the spouse of Gov. Jared Polis, who appointed Kessler to the Vet Board.
In her Facebook comments, Kessler, without any evidence, also claimed cattle ranchers use cows to “bait” wolves for compensation. Her resignation from the Vet Board became effective on Feb. 11.
Kessler was previously known for being removed from blocking the entrance to a Costco store.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office confirms that it was tipped off about conditions in Kessler’s basement. That’s where animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies found birds being kept in cages without sunlight and with floors covered in seed, dirt, and feces.
Flies and dead and alive mice were also found in the basement.
The birds were removed to a veterinarian’s office, but one of the the 13 birds was already dead and a second bird died at the veterinarian’s office.
Kessler has not commented since she was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty.
A first-time offense of animal cruelty in Colorado is a misdemeanor. With conviction, the court may impose a sentence that includes:
- Up to 364 days in county jail, and/or
- $500 to $1,000 in fines.
However, the court typically imposes anger management instead of jail. But the court may order the forfeiture of animals involved in the case. Aggravated animal cruelty — severe, intentional mistreatment — is always a felony in Colorado.
Common defense strategies for animal cruelty charges in Colorado include::
- The incident was an accident;
- The defendant acted in self-defense; or
- The police performed an illegal search and seizure
The Colorado law recognizes that “cruelty to animals” comprises all forms of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment. It makes no difference if the behavior was knowing, reckless, or merely negligent.