The Coleadero Rodeo, a popular Mexican rodeo, is slated to bring its form of rough and tumble entertainment to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds this Sunday -- the first of several dates at the venue over the coming weeks.
This despite an array of charges against the rodeo's promoters relating to animal-cruelty-related incidents that took place at the Fairgrounds mere weeks ago -- and which led to the destruction of two animals.
Channel 31 first reported the story, but didn't get into some of the most gruesome details provided by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jacki Kelley.
"There was an event at the Jeffco Fairgrounds on July 18," Kelley says, "where we had eleven cattle that received a variety of injuries. There were seven de-gloving injuries, where the tail was ripped from the cattle" -- probably from an event that features riders ripping the animals to the ground using said tails. "And we had four additional cattle that had some sort of lameness. Two of them had limb injuries that didn't result in a break, and two others had broken bones; one had a broken leg, and the other had a broken pelvis. And those animals are now deceased."
What led to these discoveries?
"We received complaints and assigned a team of investigators to document them," Kelley explains. "As a result of their investigation, they executed a search warrant in unincorporated Adams County," at the home of David Martinez, half of the father-son partnership that promotes the rodeo.
"During the execution of the search warrant, we had a chance to check on the welfare of the animals," Kelley continues. "We learned that the seven animals that were de-gloved had been given back to the rancher who rented his animals for the event. But the four more seriously injured animals were still with the promoter. One of the animals was already deceased, and the other one with the broken bones had to be put down." This chore was handled by the promoters or their staff, not by JCSO personnel.
The Martinezes were "issued a summons that falls under animal cruelty -- the specific charge was failing to provide veterinary care to injured animals, which is a misdemeanor," Kelley explains. However, she says her office is currently in conversation with Jefferson County District Attorney representatives to clear up "ambiguity" regarding the animal cruelty statute, raising the prospect of more charges to come.
Nonetheless, this Sunday's rodeo will go on, with Jeffco administrator Ralph Schell explaining to Channel 31 that refusing to honor the Martinez's contract could make the county liable for damages. This situation is clearly frustrating to Kelley, who emphasizes that "the sheriff's office is not in a position to cancel these events."
As for what the JCSO can do, Kelley notes that strategy meetings are scheduled for this afternoon and tomorrow. "We are concerned about the reported acts of animal cruelty, and we'll do what we are asked to do by law, which is enforce those violations if they're occurring within our jurisdiction."
In the meantime, Kelley says "this is difficult to watch, difficult to absorb for people, and we're getting a lot of e-mails from citizens regarding this issue. Most of them see it as pretty cut and dried. But as in most things with the law, it's not always that simple."
Except for the dead or injured animals, that is. Page down to watch Channel 31's report:
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.