By Clayton Chaney
At its meeting on May 18, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved Resolution 2021-36, declaring the board’s opposition to Colorado’s Initiative 16: Laws Concerning Cruelty to Animals.
County Administrator Scott Wall briefed the BoCC on the resolution and provided some background information on the initiative.
“It’s very, very misleading,” Wall said.
County Attorney Todd Weaver noted during the meeting that the initiative is a ballot initiative put forward by the public.
According to the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) website, the initiative “would criminalize some veterinary and animal husbandry practices.”
The CVMA website notes that the organization is “highly concerned” about the initiative and the “negative impacts on Colorado’s animals, their owners, and the veterinary profession.”
Commissioner Alvin Schaaf also commented on how he feels the initiative is misleading.
“It’s imperative that the people … educate their selves on these laws that people are trying to pass through. Because on the surface this looks like a great law … but when you read the fine print, I can’t think of a better word than asinine,” Schaaf said.
Wall noted that the initiative seems to be a more “Denver-centric” initiative and that it does not truly consider the impacts that it would have farmers and ranchers in rural communities like Archuleta County.
“People that own livestock are never cruel to their animals because it’s an investment, why would they do that?” Wall said. “To me, it’s a crazy initiative.”
Commissioner Ronnie Maez also stated the initiative would affect the way of life for many farmers and ranchers in Archuleta County.
“It definitely alters a way of life that people have been accustomed to over the years,” Maez said.
According to the CVMA website, if passed, the initiative would:
“• Require that criminal animal cruelty charges be filed against veterinarians for performing common veterinary medical surgeries
“• Make spaying and neutering animals a criminal offense, thereby increasing animal suffering, pet overpopulation, and spreading of disease
“• Criminalize safe and common artificial insemination of dogs, horses, and livestock as ‘sexual act with an animal’ or bestiality.”
Commissioner Warren Brown also commented during the meeting, noting it is important for people to understand how farmers and ranchers provide food for their communities.
“I think it’s important that people keep in mind and know and understand where their food comes from,” Brown said.
The initiative may appear on the ballot in Colorado on Nov. 8, 2022.
The CVMA websites notes that Gov. Jared Polis has issued multiple comments to news outlets stating his opposition to the initiative, but no official public statement has been issued.