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More than 150 animals rescued in Montezuma County animal mistreatment investigation

CORTEZ, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Protection removed more than 150 animals from a private property in Montezuma County following a BAP investigation and a determination by the Montezuma County District Court that the animals’ health was in danger.

Working with the Colorado Humane Society and the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, BAP staff executed a search warrant at the property on Thursday, May 5, 2022. Upon inspection, the BAP agents found 35 birds, 15 companion animals, 30 small animals, and 77 head of livestock in living conditions that presented a threat to the animals’ health. The veterinarian and experts on hand determined the majority of animals lacked access to water and food and were in poor health due to untreated medical problems. BAP agents removed companion animals from the property immediately.

On May 6, the Colorado Department of Agriculture sought a court order to remove the livestock, which the Montezuma County District Court granted that same day. The court also issued a temporary restraining order and ordered a hearing on whether the owner was fit to own the removed animals and whether the owner should be restrained from further animal ownership. The livestock were removed from the property the following day and relocated to temporary, species-specific holding facilities. The Denkai Animal Sanctuary and local community volunteers also provided assistance with animal removal and temporary housing.



On Tuesday, May 17, Judge Walker of Montezuma County District Court ordered that the state not return animals to the property and issued a preliminary injunction preventing the owner from future animal ownership until a trial can be scheduled. An investigation into the case is ongoing. A trial date will be set to determine whether the owner should be permanently restrained from animal ownership.

“This was an extreme case of animal neglect and we are glad to have the support of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Humane Society, and the community to protect these animals from further mistreatment,” said Dr. Rebecca Niemiec, the Manager of the Bureau of Animal Protection. “By closely collaborating with the local law enforcement agency and animal health experts, we responded quickly to a report of neglect and investigated the situation. A judge has determined the state must act to protect the wellbeing of these animals and we are working with animal health partners to ensure appropriate care is being administered to them.”



BAP agents worked closely with the Colorado Humane Society and a local animal shelter to remove the companion animals and transport them to facilities where they can begin rehabilitation and eventually be adopted by people who can properly care for them.

Among the animals are 13 dogs, two cats, 30 rabbits, and 17 horses, which will be available for adoption through the Denver Dumb Friends League. You can learn more about the Denver Dumb Friends League and adopt animals by visiting ddfl.org and ddfl.org/harmony-equine-center.


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