American Humane Applauds First Felony Animal Cruelty Conviction in Colorado

American Humane Association
Wednesday, 25 February 2004

A milestone was reached in Colorado this week with the first conviction under the state's felony animal cruelty legislation.

Lyle Jackson Harrison of Aurora became the first person convicted in Colorado of felony animal cruelty for failing to provide adequate food and water to 56 horses. As a result, he's being sentenced to 90 days in jail and 200 hours of community service.

Aggravated cruelty to animals has been a felony in Colorado since 2002, but this was the first case that saw a conviction. Colorado's previous laws treated torture, maiming, or killing of animals as a misdemeanor only.

"We applaud this conviction. It represents a victory in that laws against animal cruelty are not only being passed but are being enforced as the legislature intended them to be," says Joan Casey, American Humane's associate director of shelter services.

American Humane, a Denver-based organization dedicated to both child and animal protection, helped write this legislation and advocate for its passage. Spokespeople for the national nonprofit testified before the Colorado State Legislature on how animal abuse is linked to other types of violence, such as child abuse and domestic violence. The evidence is so overwhelming that 41 states and the District of Columbia currently have felony convictions for egregious acts of animal cruelty.

The case has added significance in the wake of the recent tragic incidents in Colorado in which five dogs became the victims of savage cruelty after they were stolen from the Colorado Humane Society. Three of the dogs were set on fire. Only one, a puppy named Ashley, survived. Last week, American Humane awarded $1,000 through its Second Chance Fund to the Colorado Humane Society to offset the medical expenses for Ashley.

"With this conviction we have added assurance that whoever is responsible for these heinous crimes will be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," says Casey.

A primary goal of American Humane is to raise concern about intentional acts of cruelty toward animals and to encourage communities to enforce tougher penalties for these crimes.

For more information, or to contact American Humane Association, see their website at:

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