Animal cruelty cases on the rise |

Animal cruelty cases on the rise

Christine Ina Casillas
Flanked by deputies Mark Werts and Kenny Ryan, this nameless boxer mix puppy, suffering from exposure and malnutrition, is now available for adoption at the Leadville Animal Shelter. Deputies promise to remain vigilant in animal cruelty cases around Lake County. Several cruelty and abandonment reports are currently being investigated.

A 37-year-old woman was arrested in Gypsum last week for allegedly throwing her cat into a burning fireplace.

Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call around 3 a.m. from the woman’s 13-year-old son, who called for help for both his cat and his mother, said Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

“The woman didn’t accomplish the mission,” Andree said.

Kimberly Dolle, of Dotsero, was arrested on charges of felony animal cruelty. She was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Glenwood Springs. The cat, named Pearl, survived the burns and was taken by animal control officers.

Dolle allegedly threw the cat into the fireplace because “the cat was in heat and the woman feared it would give birth to ants,” Andree said. “She told officers she wanted to make sure the cat’s soul would go to heaven.”

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“When the officers got there, the woman was irrational and they thought she might have needed medical treatment,” Andree said.

The boy wrapped the cat in wet towels in an effort to save her, Andree said.

“That was very smart on his part to save the cat,” Andree said.

The case was the third case of alleged animal cruelty in Colorado this month.

Widespread abuse

Authorities in Golden are searching for a suspect who stole four puppies from an animal shelter and burned two of them to death. One of the animals survived and was being treated for burns.

Police said at least four puppies were stolen from the shelter one evening early last week. Someone smashed a window in the back door of the building, then made off with the puppies and a plastic kennel that was later set aflame with dogs inside.

A suspect was spotted late Monday but ran off after dropping a live puppy, Jefferson County sheriff’s officials said.

Investigators obtained a surveillance video from a drug store showing a man buying something that could be used to ignite a fire about a half hour before one of the burned dogs was found. Authorities said evidence found at the scene indicated the flammable liquid used may have been bought at a drug store.

A Leadville man was arrested early in the month for investigation of animal cruelty after his three 6-month-old puppies were found without food, water or adequate shelter during bitter cold temperatures.

Noe Medillin, 18, of Mountain View Mobile Home Park was arrested on two counts of cruelty and Lake County Sheriff’s deputies jailed him on a $1,000 bond.

And last summer, Steven James Ball, a 26-year-old McCoy man, was charged in a fire that killed seven cats and destroyed a mobile home at 2170 Catamount Creek Road. The charges were tied to the shooting deaths of two dogs belonging to the same family a day earlier.

Harsher penalties

Animal cruelty is now a felony in Colorado. It was upgraded from a misdemeanor because of the correlation between violence against animals and violence against people, said Char Quinn, director of the Eagle Valley Humane Society.

“There is a strong correlation between beating animals to beating your wife and children,” Quinn said. “I’m sorry to see this happening in Eagle County because it’s such an animal-loving community.”

Animal cruelty cases have increased over the years, says a report by the Humane Society of the United States. While the statistics of the report reflect specific cases, the report provides a snapshot of animal cruelty and neglect in the United States. Of the animal cruelty cases in the report, 59 percent involved intentional cruelty toward animals and 41 percent involved extreme animal neglect.

“Animals are helpless creatures with no defense for themselves,” Quinn said. “I hope these people get punished to the full extent of the law.”

Animal cruelty laws in many parts of the country have become stricter within the last two years. Only nine states still do not have strong animal cruelty laws, including two of Colorado’s border states, Utah and Kansas.

Stricter animal cruelty laws were introduced in Colorado in January 2002 after a cat was set on fire in a middle-class neighborhood in Westminster.

The cat, Westy, soon became a local celebrity and a rallying cause for animal rights. The large tabby cat had third degree burns over 40 percent of his body. Westy underwent five major surgeries, including two skin grafts to save his right hind leg and to close burn areas on his ribcage.

His left hind leg and tail were amputated because they were too severely burned to save.

Westminster police arrested two teen-age boys in connection with the attack on Westy.

Because animal cruelty was only a misdemeanor then, the suspects, 16 and 17, who pleaded guilty to the charges, served two days in jail, paid a $500 fine and received 18-months of probation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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