Kessler defends her position on the State Board of Veterinary Medicine | TheFencePost.com
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Kessler defends her position on the State Board of Veterinary Medicine

By Ellen Kessler, former member of the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine

Some of you may know that I recently resigned my at-large seat on the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine. Statutory rules require that the board have five Colorado-licensed veterinarians and two members of ‘the public at large who have no financial or professional association with the veterinary profession’ (CRS 12-315-106). I am not a veterinarian, but then again, my seat required me NOT to be one. Nor was I put in charge of the board as some have claimed. These facts are easily accessible in a free-of-charge searchable database.

I accepted the position because I love animals and I wanted to be sure they were getting the best care possible. I felt the Board of Veterinary Medicine would give me that opportunity. I had no idea that I would be catapulted into the spotlight because I happened to be vegan and an animal rights activist.

The attacks from ranchers, cattlemen, and legislators were immediate and relentless. I was called a radical, an extremist, a terrorist, stupid, unqualified, and every nasty four-letter word in the book. Even though I was never interviewed by the media, reporters wrote stories fraught with lies and misinformation because, apparently, that’s what sells.



Yes, I shared activism on Facebook, including my beliefs about 4H, artificial insemination and wolf attacks on cattle. I don’t deny it; but I also won’t disavow it. These are my beliefs, and I expressed them always in my personal capacity … never as a representative of state government, the Polis Administration, or the veterinary board. Certainly, I’m not the first person with a personal opinion to be appointed to serve on an official board.

At first, the attacks did bother me. It bothered me that the petition started by my most ardent follower — Rachel Gabel, assistant editor of The Fence Post fame — garnered nearly 25,000 signatures. I never expected the blowback my appointment would cause, especially since I was only one of seven votes, and because the board did NOT hear cases about “livestock.” But don’t take my word for it — a rural reporter researched and confirmed the truth. So did the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. But ranchers and cattlemen and some state legislators had a bug up their you-know-what, and they needed a punching bag to take out all their self-righteous anger over being marginalized, their made-up rural/urban divide narrative, and ‘boo hoo, nobody appreciates me.’ This time, that punching bag happened to be me. But don’t mistake what happened for an isolated incident. Now that I’m gone, they’ll be looking for someone else to blame.



I could have resigned from the board immediately after the first volleys nearly two years ago, but I wasn’t born in rural New York City for nothing. I was taught as a young child to always stand up for what I believed in, even if everyone else disagreed. And so, I remained on the board, reading thousands of pages of cases every other month, mostly about dogs and cats, but occasionally about a parrot, a horse or a snake. But never about farm animals — never about ‘livestock’.

There’s a lot of conjecture about the reasons behind my resignation, but since nobody bothered to ask me — the person at the center of all this controversy — the media ran wild with sensationalist theories. I won’t refute the allegation that I resigned to ensure our great governor gets reelected. He’s done some remarkable things for Colorado over the past three years and he’s just warming up. For those who want to make this about politics, I’m not a Democrat. Surprised? Whatever.

The real reason I resigned is because it was preventing me from doing my activism. It’s hard enough being an activist for a long-shot cause, let alone having to worry about being used in an attack ad against our governor. I need to be able to speak out when I see violence against animals, and the publicity of being appointed to a public at-large seat on a state board held me back. But now that I am once again a private citizen, I can re-engage on the issues that matter to me.

So as much as I hate to write this (#sarcasm, with a huge grin on my face), all the attention I’ve garnered has only made me stronger in my convictions. It’s made the animal rights movement stronger and more visible. And it’s made people more aware of the suffering that animals are faced with every day at the hands of those who use them for profit. I know the ranchers and cattlemen believe they won when I resigned, but their victory lap will be short-lived. Activists don’t give up on what they know is right, and we will have our day. Guaranteed.

I am making this post public so everyone can see how petty and insecure these ranchers, cattlemen and legislators can be when they lash out at one person appointed to one board for having a difference of opinion. If comments on this post are half as entertaining as they are enlightening, I’m sure we’re in for a lot of fun.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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