House Bill 1125, introduced by Colorado Republican Representative Jerry Sonnenberg has animal rights activists up in arms. The measure put forth would strip Animal Control officers of the authority to seize abused livestock and, instead, require that a veterinarian make that determination.
Activists argue that this sets up a double standard of care between domesticated animals and farmed animals/livestock, and that with time often being of the essence in cases of animal abuse, having to wait to retain the services of a veterinarian (who is not law enforcement) to get out to rural areas could mean the life and death of animals reported as, and viewed by AC as, abused.
Sonnenberg argues that he would rather a veterinarian with proper training be the one to make the call as to whether animals should be seized rather than an AC officer who has not had 12 plus years of training.
Sonnenberg’s argument holds no water and this is why.
In cases of child abuse, law enforcement make the immediate decision to remove abused children from any home they deem unfit after on-sight inspection. This is for the immediate safety and well-being of the child. Physicians and social workers come in secondarily with their investigations and diagnoses. Those findings are taken into consideration by the court to determine if that child (children) are or are not in any further danger under the care of the parents from whom they are taken. This same protocol has been in place for animal care and control in most states. It makes sense as it puts the safety and well-being of animals first; protects the animals and makes them a priority, not the alleged abusers. Sonnenberg’s bill would place the business of livestock (and those business owners) above that of the welfare of the animals.
The question then becomes why would Sonnenberg choose to do this? For whom is he advocating?
A look at Sonnenberg’s voting record and past employment may provide a clue. Sonnenberg is a farmer and rancher. He also used to work for the Farm Business Management Department at Northeastern Junior College. In addition, he is a member of the Colorado Farm Bureau, Elks Club, and the National Rifle Association of America. When it comes to his voting record, the following shows where his loyalties lie.
Repeals Taxes on Agricultural Products May, 2011 Yea
He has served on the Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources Committee, Colorado House of Representatives, (as Chair in 2011-2012) since 2009. One of his top donors is the Colorado Dairy Farmers Association.
By vocation, donation, and party, Sonnenberg is clearly on the side of the business of agriculture, and specifically, on the side of animal owners and not the animals. This is parallel to protecting an abusive parent over an abused child.
Animal activists have every right to be angry at the introduction of a bill that makes AC’s job any more difficult and further lowers the importance of animal welfare.
If you are a resident of Colorado and oppose this measure, contact Jerry Sonnenberg and tell him (and/or your rep in CO) no! Email Sonnenberg at email@example.com or call his office at 303-866-3706.
Say NO to House Bill 1125. Let Animal Control continue to have the authority to protect all animals, domesticated and farmed.
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M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on Amazon.com .
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