Colorado Animal Activist Kessler Charged With Animal Cruelty

Scenic Mesa Ranch, Colo.
Scenic Mesa Ranch, Colo.
(Hall & Hall)

Hypocrisy is not a crime. Neither is stupidity.

Ellen Kessler has been charged with 13 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in Jefferson County, Colorado. That’s the same Ellen Kessler who – while she served on the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine – called ranchers “lazy” and “nasty” in a Facebook post.

The Jefferson County sheriff’s office was tipped off March 7 that Kessler had multiple birds living in poor conditions in her basement. That’s where officers allege they found birds being kept in cages without sunlight and with floors covered in seed, dirt and feces. The blatant hypocrisy is stunning.

In total, officers found 13 birds along with “an overwhelming smell of urine” and “mice were found, both alive and dead, as well as flies throughout the house.” It was determined the birds should not go back to the home, officers said, “because the birds, including doves and cockatiels, suffered from a variety of health issues.”

Kessler home
Ellen Kessler's home.
Photo: Jefferson County, CO, sheriff's office.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis surely regrets nominating Kessler to the state veterinary board in 2020. The nomination immediately drew the ire of ranchers and others involved in Colorado agriculture since Kessler was a self-proclaimed animal rights activist, and soon after her appointment posted on her personal social media account that, “4-H clubs teach children that animal lives don’t matter.”

Further alienating ranchers was the fact Kessler was a friend of Polis’ husband, Marlon Reis, also a self-proclaimed animal rights activist. And it was Kessler’s response to a Reis post on Facebook that led to Kessler’s resignation from the state veterinary board.

Reis was commenting on a story in the Missoulian on a new collaboration program with ranchers who deal with grizzly bears.

Referring to recent attacks by wolves on cattle and dogs in northern Colorado, Kessler accused ranchers of using their cows to “bait” wolves in order to receive compensation for the loss of their animals.

“These techniques could easily translate into activism in Colorado for soon-to-be-introduced wolves and other predators already living among us,” Kessler wrote. “Would our lazy and nasty ranchers/cattlemen even raise a finger to make something like this work or is (sic) using a cow to bait the wolves their solution? A living cow doesn’t make money for them. Only a dead cow does. If the slaughterhouse doesn’t pay them for the carcass, they’ll blame the predators so the state will pay them for livestock lost from predators. What a racket. What a scam.”

Admitting she was “unprofessional in my judgement,” Kessler’s resignation from the veterinary board was effective Feb. 11, 2022. Less than a month later she was charged with animal cruelty, and given the alleged conditions under which she kept her birds, her judgement hasn’t improved much.

Under Colorado law, animal cruelty, a class 1 misdemeanor, carries a maximum fine of $5,000 per charge, with a mandatory minimum fine of $500, and could include jail time of up to 18 months.

Related stories:

A Western Governor Is At Odds With Agriculture

Colorado's Kessler Out At State Vet Board After Calling Ranchers 'Lazy'


Latest News

Spring has Sprung and Show Season is Just Around the Corner. Are You Ready?

For your showing clients, now is a good time to discuss a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Many livestock shows will require a CVI -- even if the animal doesn’t have to cross state lines to get to the show.

Mastitis in Beef Cows: What You Need to Know

Although mastitis, an infection of the udder, is often considered a dairy cow problem, the disease may also impact beef producers. Here's what you need to know and look for and how to help protect your herd.

We Need More Answers, Veterinarian Says About Biosecurity Research

As a veterinarian, Jeremy Pittman, senior director of U.S. veterinary services for Smithfield Foods, says he is constantly tasked with, asked about and challenged on biosecurity processes or protocols. 

Mineral and Vitamin Considerations When Drylotting Cows

Managing cows in a drylot can be a way to maintain the herd when forage production is reduced. However, it's important to make sure cows are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

Animal Activist and Former Baywatch Star Found Not Guilty in ‘Open Rescue’

Former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and activist Alicia Santurio were found not guilty of misdemeanor theft after “rescuing” two chickens in 2021. Although they faced jail time, Paul says it was worth the risk.

7 Tips for More Effective Vaccination Programs in Calves

Ask 10 dairy producers what they believe is an effective vaccination program for calves, and you’ll likely get 10 unique answers. That’s OK, because there is no effective one-size-fits-all strategy.