Colorado Dog Sled Operation At Center of Controversy Over Fate of Unwanted Sled Dogs

Krabloonik, a Colorado-based dog sled outfit, found itself in the middle of a public controversy in April after letters-to-the editor in local newspapers accused it of killing some of its dogs with a gunshot to the head and then disposing of the bodies of the dogs in a pile of waste.

In an op-ed published in the Aspen Daily news, Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen admitted that the organization killed dogs that were either at the end of their working lives as well as pups who turned out to be incapable of pulling sleds. MacEachen maintain in his op-ed however, that the dogs were killed humanely and that the whole process was legal under Colorado’s animal welfare laws.

A former employee of Krabloonik’s claimed that the business killed up to 35 dogs annually in this manner, though MacEachen said the actual number is much lower.

A number of other dog sledding outfits contacted by the media said that while this method of killing used to be the norm, that it is no longer widespread within dog sledding outfits.

Four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser told The Aspen Daily News, for example, that if he needs to euthanize a dog he calls in a veterinarian who administer’s a lethal injection. Buser maintained he had not had to euthanize a dog in several years.

Lynda Plattner, who runs a 300 dog sledding outfit in Alaska, has started up a nonprofit called Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog Retirement Foundation whose goal is to provide a retirement program specifically for Iditarod dogs. Plattner told Denver’s ABC 7,

There is no other animal in the world like them, and based on that fact alone, they deserve to continue to receive the best care possible long after their competitive days are over.

In response to an inquiry from ABC 7, the American Humane Society confirmed MacEachen’s interpretation that euthanizing dogs with a gunshot to the head was legal in Colorado, but AHA head Marie Belew Wheatley added that, “It is inconceivable to me that a business enterprise that profits off the work and loyalty of these dogs would fail to seek another more compassionate end for these animals.”

Given the heat dog sledding already receives from animal rights activists, you’d think dog sled outfits like MacEachen’s would not want to hand them an issue on a silver platter like this.

Source:

Krabloonik defends culling of pack. Chad Abraham, The Aspen Times, April 5, 2005.

Controversy over treatment of sled dogs. Chad Abraham, Vail Daily, April 9, 2005.

Humane Association Criticizes Shooting Dogs In Head. ABC 7, The Denver Channel, April 5, 2005.

HSUS Campaigns for Army to Stop Battlefield Medical Training with Goats

The Humane Society of the United States objected in September to the Army’s plans to injure goats in order to teach battlefield medical techniques to special forces units at Fort Carson, Colorado.

The training exercise calls for the goats to be sedated and then wounded. Special forces soldiers than treat the injuries. At the end of the exercise, the goats are euthanized.

HSUS sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking that goats not be used in the exercise. Michael Stephens, HSUS vice president for animal research issues said in a press release,

ThereÂ’s a certain implausibility to the claim that such an exercise would properly prepare anyone for the projected scenario of battlefield care. Of course, The Humane Society of the United States supports proper training of military medical personnel for the benefit of American soldiers, but injuring animals need not be part of the process. The Department of Defense has had nearly 20 years to figure out how to train army medics without harming live animals. If they can devise unmanned drones and bunker-busting bombs, surely they can figure out how to simulate human battlefield injuries without injuring animals.

. . .

The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of our eight million constituents, will continue to urge the military to stop these senseless exercises. If the DOD doesn’t like the currently available alternatives, they should spend some money and effort into research on other methods of training.

That message certainly got through to goat farmer Karen Robinson, who told The Colorado Spring Gazette that the planned exercise was wrong because,

They [goats] are almost like humans.

For its part, the Army claims the goats are treated humanely and that using goats is vital to the Special Forces training. Rebecca Ellison of the United States Army Special Forces Command issued a statement saying,

The army will go forth with this training because it is vital in teaching special forces and other special operations medics to manage critically injured patients. In effect, this type of training is directly responsible for saving lives in real world combat situations. All training involving animals is conducted in accordance with established protocols and all applicable federal laws.

Using goats to practice battlefield medical techniques is a method that the Special Forces have used for almost 20 years.

Sources:

Goat lovers aghast over Army plan. Tom Roeder, Colorado Springs Gazette, September 9, 2004.

Using injured goats for Army training causes controversy. KOAA, September 9, 2004.

Lawsuits Swirl Over Denver's Ban on Pit Bulls

In the latest lawsuit to grow out of Denver, Colorado’s 15-year-old ban on pit bulls in that city, the city of Denver is suing the state to overturn a law that forbade individual municipalities from banning specific breeds of dog.

After a number of attacks involving pit bulls, including one that killed a child, Denver banned pit bulls in 1989. That ban was overturned by the state legislature in April. The legislature passed a bill designed to overturn Colorado’s so-called “first bite free” rule under which an owner with a dangerous dog could not be prosecuted until after a provable first offense had already been committed by the dog. That bill was amended to include language that made it illegal for Colorado municipalities to ban specific breeds of dogs.

The city of Denver filed a lawsuit in May arguing that the law violated a home rule amendment to the Colorado state constitution which gives municipalities a wide degree of freedom from interference by the state legislature.

And that’s not the only lawsuit going. In March the American Canine Foundation filed a lawsuit against Denver claiming that the city violated the constitutional rights of two pit bull owners who had to leave the city in order to keep their animals. The American Canine Foundation is also threatening to file a lawsuit defending the new state law against breed-specific bans.

Denver has suspended enforcement of the pit bull ban until all of the legal issues are sorted out.

Source:

Denver sues state over new dog ban law. April M. Washington, Rocky Mountain News, May 14, 2004.

State Dumps Ban on Pit Bulls; Denver Scrambles in Wake of New Law. Peggy Love, Rocky Mountain News, April 22, 2004.

Denver, Colorado Ordinance No. Council Bill No. 1007 (2003) – Ban on Circus Animals

BY AUTHORITY

ORDINANCE NO. COUNCIL BILL NO. 1007

SERIES OF 2003 COMMITTEE OF REFERENCE:

HUMAN CAPITAL AGENDA

A BILL

For an ordinance providing for the submission to a vote of the qualified and registered electors of the City and County of Denver at a special municipal election to be held on August 10, 2004 an initiated ordinance prohibiting the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment and amusement, with exceptions for the Denver Zoo, Ocean Journey, The National Western Stock Show, and other accredited organizations.

WHEREAS, on December 2, 2003 the Denver Election Commission forwarded to the City Council a petition for an initiated ordinance as more fully set forth herein, upon a determination that the petition contained the validated signatures of registered electors of the City and County of Denver totaling at least 5% of the total votes cast for the office of Mayor in the last election at which the mayor was elected; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to § 8.3.3 (C) of the Denver Charter, upon receipt of a petition containing the aforesaid number of signatures, the City Council may either enact the ordinance without alteration within 35 days of receipt or submit the question of whether or not the ordinance should be enacted to a vote of the people at the next scheduled citywide election held not less than 55 days after submission by the Council; and

WHEREAS, the next scheduled citywide election is the state primary election due to occur on August 10, 2004; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to §§ 31-10-108 and 1-7-116, C.R.S., and § 8.2.3 of the Denver Charter, the City Council is authorized to call a special City and County election to be coordinated with the State primary election.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER:

Section 1. The City Council hereby calls for a special City and County election to be conducted at the same time and coordinated with the State primary election to be held on August 10, 2004

Section 2. There is hereby submitted to the properly qualified and registered electors of the City and County of Denver at the special City and County election to be held August 10, 2004, an initiated ordinance to read as follows:

Section 1. Sections 8-5 through 8-8 D.R.M.C. added.

Chapter 8, Article I of the Revised Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver is hereby revised by adding Sections 8-5 through 8-8 to read as follows:

Sec. 8-5. Purpose and Intent.

It is the intent of the people of the City and County of Denver to protect the public against hazards that wild and exotic animals used in entertainment pose to society, and protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment when they are exhibited for public entertainment or amusement.

Sec. 8-6. Definitions.

These words and phrases, whenever used in this ordinance, shall be construed as follows:

(a) “Wild or exotic animal display” means to exhibit a wild or exotic animal for amusement or entertainment, and includes, without limitation, any such exhibition in a circus, ride, trade show, fair, carnival, parade, race, photographic opportunity or live performance.

(b) “Wild or exotic animal” means any animal in the following orders and families, whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any animal hybrid resulting from the breeding of an animal that is a member of the following orders and families:

Non-human primate and prosimians (e.g. chimpanzees, monkeys), Felidae (except domesticated cats), Canidae (except domesticated dogs), Ursidae (e.g. bears), Proboscidae (e.g. elephants), Cetacea (e.g. whales, dolphins, porpoises), Crocodilia (e.g. alligators, crocodiles), Marsupialia (e.g. kangaroos, opossums), Reptilia over 8 feet in length and snakes and reptiles of the venomous variety, Perissodactyla (e.g. rhinoceroses, tapirs, not horses or donkeys, or mules), Artiodactyla (e.g. hippopotamuses, giraffes, camels, not cattle, buffalo, swine, sheep or goats), Hyaenidae, Mustelidae (e.g. skunks, weasels, otters, badgers), Procyonidae (e.g. raccoons,

coatis), Edentata (e.g. anteaters, sloths, armadillos), Viverridae (e.g. mongooses, civets, and genets), Pinnipedia (e.g. seals, sea lions, walruses), Struthioniformes (e.g. ostriches), Casuariiformes (e.g. emus). 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Sec. 8-7. Display of Wild or Exotic Animals Prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person to put on or sponsor a wild or exotic animal display on any public or private land within the City and County of Denver. This prohibition, however, shall not apply to the Denver Zoological Gardens (The Denver Zoo), The Denver Downtown Aquarium (Ocean Journey) subject to accreditation as set forth below, The National Western Stock Show, or any entity accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Association of Sanctuaries or the American Sanctuary Association, or their successors.

Sec. 8-8. Enforcement.

The manager of environmental health or the managerÂ’s designee shall enforce the provisions of this ordinance.

Section 2. Section 8-2 (a)(2) D.R.M.C. Repealed.

Section 8-2 (a)(2) of the Revised Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver is hereby repealed.

Section 3. The voting machines and paper ballots for said election shall carry the following designation, which shall be the title and submission clause:

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance prohibiting the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment and amusement, with exceptions for the Denver Zoo, Ocean Journey, The National Western Stock Show, and other accredited organizations?

Yes _____ No _____

Section 4. Each elector voting at the election and wishing to vote for or against the ordinance shall indicate the elector’s choice by depressing the appropriate counter of the voting machine which indicates the word “YES” or the word “NO,” or by appropriate marking upon paper ballots when used.

Section 5. The proper officials of the City and County of Denver as are charged with duties relating to the election shall, before the election, issue such calls, make such certifications and

publications, give such notices, make such appointments, and do all such other acts and things in connection with the submission of this initiated ordinance to the registered electors of the City and County of Denver at the election as are required by the Constitution and laws of the State of Colorado and the Charter and ordinances of the City and County of Denver

Section 6. The Clerk and Recorder shall publish the initiated ordinance in a manner consistent with the publication of other ordinances before such election is held.

Section 7. The ballots cast at such election shall be canvassed and the results ascertained, determined, and certified in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution and laws of the State of Colorado and the Charter and ordinances of the City and County of Denver.

Colorado Bans Feeding of Fox and Coyotes in Urban Areas

On January 8, the Colorado Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to prohibit the feeding of fox and coyotes in urban areas of the state.

Mike King, regulations manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, told The Rocky Mountain News,

We have prohibited feeding coyotes and fox in any area where shooting a gun is not allowed. . . .We want people to stop feeding wildlife, especially animals that could be dangerous.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, the rules change follows a 2002 incident in which a woman was bitten by a coyote that a restaurant kept leaving out food for.

Violators of the ban will be fined $68 for each offense.

Source:

Request now a rule: Don’t feed the wildlife. Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News, January 9, 2004.

Animal Rights Group Displeased at Being Target of Law Enforcement

Rocky Mountain Animal Defense, a Boulder, Co.-based animal rights group, was none too pleased to learn in May that Denver police had maintained a file on the group going back to 2001.

The existence of the file was revealed as the result of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Denver Polie Department. After the ACLU announced its lawsuit in March and made public several pages it had obtained from secret police files, Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb announced that the Denver Police Department had maintained files on as many as 3,200 individuals and more than 200 organizations.

Rocky Mountain Animal Defense director David Crawford told the Rocky Mountain News, “They have absolutely no reason to believe we are involved in criminal activity.” The Rocky Mountain News noted, however, that “members [of the group] have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience.”

The file on the group included everything from a notice of a 2001 garage sale to benefit the group, to notes from meetings that the Denver Police Department infiltrated. One such report included the license plate numbers of cars parked outside the meeting.

University of Colorado police Lt. Tim McGraw, whose department passed on items about the animal rights group to the Denver Police Department, said that even though the group itself may not have been engaged in illegal activities, police often follow such groups because individuals who do not act within the law may be attracted to their meetings.

McGraw told the Rocky Mountain News, “There are some people who attach themselves to these groups who have less than lawful intent.”

In fact, the Rocky Mountain News reported that several of the surveillance reports claimed that, “RMAD members and associates are suspects in the arson in Vail, Co., [claimed by the Earth Liberation Front] and of several other similar arson fires on facilities that had sponsored prairie dog shoots.”

Crawford maintains that although the group opposed the Vail project, it had nothing to do with the arson and adds that, “Because we were protesting, they considered us suspects.”

Source:

‘Spy’ report irks group. Berney Morson, Rocky Mountain News, May 20, 2003.

ACLU of Colorado Files Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Denver Police Spyfiles on Peaceful Protest Activities. Press Release, American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, March 28, 2002.