Reader: That Santa gave my kids a Christmas to remember

"Altered State," Off Limits, November 29

High Ideals

Loved the "Hey Bud!" postcard in Off Limits last week. If Visit Denver had any idea of what a bonanza the legalization of recreational pot is going to be for Colorado, they would be making those cards for real and advertising our real "Rocky Mountain High" right now.

Josh Parker

"Santa Is Grounded," Melanie Asmar, November 22 Run, Run, Rudolph

It made me sad to read this article. I met Bill Lee darn near 23 years ago. He and his wife, Carol, gave my kids a Christmas they will never forget. The kids are in high school now, and still tell all their friends about that one year that Santa came to their home, woke them up in the middle of the night, gave them presents and brought Vixen up on our front porch for them to pet. They still have all the pictures to prove it.

His work is tireless, thankless and priceless, and it changes little lives forever. My wife and I would love to see this situation turn around for them, like the cop and waitress in It Could Happen to You. Our money order to them is in the mail today.

Jeff Neuhalfen

I was just sent "Santa Is Grounded" by a friend and must admit I was a little surprised. I received a message from the reporter several weeks ago, and I did not return it because I was told by the Clear Creek County DA that I would be receiving a summons to testify in this case. Well, to my surprise, Melody Charlton got hers, but I never received one. I do not regret making the call to animal authorities. The neglect and conditions those animals lived in did not happen just in the time span of Bill Lee's accident.

One point I would like to clarify is that the two donkeys that I was going to foster were part of the herd in the round pen that Bill Lee stated were wild. Ms. Charlton and myself were able to enter that corral, halter both donkeys, open the gate, lead them to a tie pole and nurse them. We did this on two separate occasions. These were not wild donkeys that had never had human contact. The time came to pick them up, and I was told by Carol Lee that Bill Lee said I could not take them.

I saw intact males running with does in the goat pens, and a three-legged pregnant goat that was kept in a horse trailer. It goes on and on. The shape of Bill Lee's animals is a matter of record; it took years to get that bad.

I just wanted to set the record straight on my end. This was not something I did out of meanness or revenge; I struggled for several weeks but could just not justify the conditions these animals lived in. I offered to help the best I could, and the help was refused.

Belinda Douglas

Thank you so much for the coverage of Bill Lee. His issue does not fall on deaf ears, and I am so thrilled to see his cheery smile!

Maria Indrehus

My Voice Nation Help

All four seasons at Laughing Valley Ranch you will see trailers moving and animals on the go. Mr. Lee has now and always had purpose for these animals. Say what you want about the conditions at Laughing Valley Ranch. I call it a piece of heaven for me, my family of six, and all that take the time to run around Burro Mountain at Laughing Valley Ranch.


The burro that I am most proud of is the smallest one of the wild burros with the biggest heart! His name is Smokey and his is such a amazing animal. In October on 2012 Smokey and seven other LVR burros went to Fort Davis, Texas to run the first Pack Burro Race in the State of Texas. Smokey's running partner was a man from Tyler Texas and has never ran with Burro's before. We took them on a test run and shortly after that the race was on. Smokey was in the lead several times in the race and was on my tail as we approached the finish line. It was a photo finish, Smokey lost by six inches. He was beat out by myself and Zeb the burro, we have never been pushed like that in a race before. I turned to Smokey's partner and told him that just a year ago that burro was a wild BLM burro and was on his way to a kill trailer. Mr. Lee saw something in this animal as he sees in all his animals, he took the time and expense that no one else wanted to take and saved these animals life.


This is where Belinda Douglas steps in… Melody Carlton tells her that all five burro's have been out for many runs and have taken to a halter and lead. That LVR crew have had them out several times and even seen packs on them. At this point two weeks after Mr. Lee's accident they were no longer wild and all had a job. Mr. lee was recovering faster than we expected so he decision was made to foster no more animals. The five burro's that were left became very productive. All five became pack burro racers, all five ran every race in 2011 and 2012 season. All five became working animals on the ranch and preformed burro rides all over the State of Colorado. They became productive packers for anyone that need their services in the mountains. In 2012 all five were in the Denver St. Patrick Day Parade and won Best Equine on the 50th Anniversary of the Parade along with other LVR burros. Two were hired in 2012 and trained Special Forces at Fort Carson on how pack burros for Afghanistan and Iraq. This training will be instrumental in the winning of the war in Afghanistan. The Washington Post says Donkeys take over for U.S. helicopters at Afghan outposts.


The six wild jack burros in the east pen were delivered to LVR in pretty bad shape. They were on their way to auction and then to a kill trailer. The rancher that gave them to Mr. Lee knew that they would have purpose at LVR. After castrating all of them Mr. Lee worked on the feet with a college educated fairer. They got all their shots and paperwork. The feet took some time but LVR was able to get them cleaned up to the point that they needed one more trimming. Just before Mr. Lee's accident he sold one to a friend along with a baby burro he gave as a wedding gift. Two days after Mr. Lee's accident I personally sold three of the wild burros that have now had handling and were almost ready for their final trimming. The three that I sold were boarded at LVR, as the owner lived just miles away.


I can tell you first hand that Melody Charlton is not perfect. Has she told anyone that she killed one of Bill's baby reindeer by not following instructions because she knows better, and ignored the instruction of Mrs. Lee. Melody Carlton turned Bill into Animal Control because she saw a picture of Forest the Dog. Folks that is correct she did not see the animal in person she saw a photo and called AC (Animal Control) and told them Forest looked thin weeks after she left the ranch. Melody spent almost three weeks at Laughing Valley Ranch and she never made one complaint. It was not till Belinda got mad that Melody even turned on Laughing Valley Ranch. How do you live at a ranch that is in such "bad shape" for three weeks and hold your tongue while all these animals so called suffer (according to Melody). You don't, because there was no suffering at Laughing Valley Ranch.


Ms Douglas and Mrs. Charlton you need to know the pain and torment your phone call to Animal Control caused. I saw perfectly good animals euthanized by Clear Creek Animal Control because they were too old according to them. Those animals were loved and deserved the right to live out their lives on the ranch they served so well. They cut antlers off reindeer, castrated World Champion Burro named Bullwinkle, took horrible care of burros at Harmony returning them with hoof walls missing. The horror continues even today. You and Melody started the title wave of the largest seizing of healthy animals ever in the State of Colorado. You two are personally responsible for altering the lives of dozens of families that helped at LVR and boarded their animals. I understand that the two of you do not believe that an animal should be worked or used in any manner. That is fine, but when you use the law to prop up your option and have a case as thin as this one, it is plain wrong. You would be hard pressed not to find a ranch with an old animal that is thin from age or a broken wire on a fence line. Or a water tank that is outside without some dirt from the blowing winds, a working animal without a halter rub. I wonder how fit your animals are? Could they run 29 miles in under 5 hours. I doubt it. I know that Melody Carlton told me that she lost one of her burro's due to over eating (too fat). I will stick to the Laughing Valley Ranch way of live.


Belinda Douglas should be ashamed... She came onto the ranch to take what she wanted and when she was told no she got mad. So mad that she took her trumped up charges to Clear Creek Animal Control. She was there to look a Molly Mule for free and then just went shopping on the ranch. She told Mrs. Lee that the mule would be too much and it needed more handling, but was interested in the donkeys in the east pen. Mrs. Lee told her that some were sold and she did not know which ones. LVR(Laughing Valley Ranch)was holding off on Fostering any more animals as Mr. Lee was getting better very fast. Belinda drove off with an empty trailer. Not because she was told to go away, but because she was mad that she did not get the burros she wanted.