BENT COUNTY, Colo. — In a letter to the 16th Judicial District Attorney (DA), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked the DA to charge the man who allegedly started the Fort Lyons River fire with animal cruelty.
These charges would be added to those that Charles Gregory Champney already faces for allegedly igniting the fire.
In addition to destroying two human residences, the fire killed numerous animals including chickens, pigs and an unknown number of wild animals that lived across the 3,000 acres of now-decimated land.
PETA wrote that, “causing this kind of unjustifiable pain, suffering, and death should be recognized as a violation of Colorado’s animal protection laws.” The organization cited Colorado’s protection laws, which state that anyone who “needlessly kills an animal” commits cruelty to animals.
“Gentle pigs and chickens—and surely an untold number of other terrified animals—endured agonizing deaths in the Fort Lyon River fire,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “These victims deserve acknowledgement, and PETA is calling for cruelty-to-animals charges to be filed against the person responsible for their deaths.”
PETA noted that precedents exist for such charges. After hearing from PETA, a California prosecutor charged a man with cruelty to animals for the deaths of 12 endangered condors in the Dolan fire and in Oregon. Another case PETA cited was a prosecutor charged an arsonist with eight counts of first-degree animal abuse for the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, a goldfish, chickens, and a raccoon. Both cases resulted in convictions.