PUEBLO, Colo. - A Pueblo County woman is behind bars after authorities said they found more than 60 starving animals on her property in Boone. They said two horses and a donkey were already dead.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region said it got an anonymous tip about the animals. Joe Stafford, the director of animal law enforcement, said 31 dogs, 29 horses, several donkeys and mules, a cat and a llama were living in the worst conditions he's ever seen. He said one of the dogs was feeding on a dead animal to survive.
"What we encountered was really shocking and horrific conditions that the animals were being kept in," said Stafford.
Valarie Christine Harris, 55, has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a class 6 felony. She's been convicted for animal abuse twice before. In 2007, authorities said that 19 horses were seized from her property and in 2009, two neglected dogs were found.
Stafford said he'll be working with the district attorney's office to get justice for the animals and stop Harris from doing this again. He said for every animal Harris is found guilty of abusing, she faces up to 18 months in jail and a $100,000 fine.
The animals are now getting the food and care they need at humane society facilities around Southern Colorado.
Despite the neglect they've seen, many of the animals still trust people and seek attention.
"That's really remarkable I think," said Stafford. "A testament to the unconditional love animals give us."
The humane society said it hopes all of the animals will eventually be up for adoption after they are rehabilitated. For now, it's looking for donations to help with care and treatment. A spokesperson said the animals will cost $20,000 or more to care for in the next few months.
You can donate online by clicking here or mail donations to: Pueblo Animal Services, 4600 Eagleridge Place, Pueblo, CO 81008.