Jan 10, 2012 12:47 AM by John Romero
55 year old Valerie Harris of Boone is in a Pueblo County jail cell, facing felony animal cruelty charges in one of the worst cases authorities have ever come across. "The conditions were deplorable." explains Joe Stafford, the Pikes Peak Humane Society's Regional Director of Animal Law Enforcement
On Friday, Pueblo Animal Service and Animal Law Enforcement Officers executed a search warrant on a ranch near Boone on Highway 50 east of Pueblo after reports of dead horses in the area. "This is one of the worst. I've been doing this in law enforcement for a long period of time and this certainly ranks up there amongst the worst." says Stafford.
When authorities entered even they weren't prepared for what they encountered. They found 2 dead horses, a dead donkey and over 60 other animals near death. "There are numerous animals that are very, very thin and some that have medical conditions that have been untreated for a long period of time." explains Stafford.
They found 34 horses. Most of them were frail and weak. "There was no hay on the property that we could find." says Stafford, "I mean not one single bale." 31 dogs were also seized. Some were blind with no teeth. Others were full of tumors. "They were just thin, emaciated animals." says Stafford.
Sadly this wasn't the first time Harris has been involved in a case like this either. "There have also been some previous concerns with regards to animal welfare at this location." explains Stafford. Harris has twice been arrested for animal cruelty. In 2007 19 horses were taken from her. Just 2 year later in 2009, 2 dogs were also taken. It's a frightening cycle that's once again come full circle. "It is frustrating." says Stafford, "This exact set of circumstances has continued."
Many of the animals have been taken to the Pueblo Animal Services Shelter. The others have been taken to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs. They tell us they are dire need of donations to help with the care of the 60 plus animals they have taken in. You can call the Pueblo Animal Services Shelter at 719-544-3005 or you can call the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs at 719-473-1741