"For people who can't control themselves, their own impulses, the law has to do it for
them."-UPC President Karen Davis quoted in the Daily Camera, Boulder, CO, Jan 10,
2002 ("Turkey Death Suspect Has Record of Bird Abuse" by Christine Reid)
Longmont, Boulder County, Colorado - On December 25, 2001, 21-year-old Luis
Contreras killed his girlfriend's family's companion turkey by hitting the bird with a
billiard ball and a cue stick after drinking twelve cans of beer. Contreras was charged
with cruelty to animals. If convicted he faces an 18-month jail term-the maximum
penalty for "misdemeanor" animal cruelty Colorado. This is the second time in 4 months
that Contreras has been arrested for abusing a bird. On October 26, 2001, Contreras was
convicted of animal cruelty for slamming his girlfriend's cockatiel against a wall in
September. He was placed on 18 months probation. Contreras broke probation when he
killed the turkey and drank alcohol on December 25.
United Poultry Concerns immediately called Boulder County Prosecutor Karen
Peters and issued an Internet Action Alert urging people to urge Peters to request the
maximum penalty for Contreras. After being flooded with letters, Peters asked UPC to
withdraw the Action Alert as it had achieved its purpose. In "Animal Advocates Renew
Call for Tougher Cruelty Laws," in the Daily Times-Call, Longmont, CO, Jan. 11, 2002,
Peters told reporter DeeDee Correll, "We will absolutely take this very seriously. He has
an animal cruelty on a bird again."
Contreras's cruelty has increased the debate about making animal cruelty a felony
offense in Colorado. This year, Colorado Senator Deanna Hanna plans to sponsor a bill
that would make animal cruelty a felony and require counseling for youthful offenders.
The Daily Times-Call reported that "As far as United Poultry Concerns is concerned, the
case underscores the need for Colorado to join the 33 states that have passed laws making
animal cruelty a felony crime. 'When you have a state where people set cats on fire or
hurl birds against a wall, clearly these people are doing it in part because they don't fear
what will happen to them . . . The idea is, "If I do this, nobody's going to care,"' Davis
said. 'We're talking about creatures we've brought into our homes and lives. We have an
obligation to protect those animals.'"