Suspects accused of illegally transporting roosters plead guilty to animal cruelty
BRECKENRIDGE — Two men who were caught transporting roosters through Summit County last spring pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor animal cruelty during hearings at the Summit County Justice Center on Thursday afternoon.
Jose Saltos and Kenneth Dotson were two of four men involved in an animal cruelty case stemming from a traffic stop in May last year, in which the men were caught unlawfully transporting roosters that county officials were later forced to euthanize.
Just after noon on May 15, 2019, a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol initiated a traffic stop on a truck with unreadable plates near mile maker 202 on Interstate 70, just outside of Frisco. There were three men in the car, including Dotson and two others implicated in the case — Austin Clanton and driver Cody Smith, who are scheduled for disposition hearings of their own on Feb. 3 and Feb. 10 respectively. The three men said they were taking the truck to one of their friends in California named “Joe,” later identified as Jose Saltos.
According to police reports, the trooper noticed a distinct squawking sound coming from the trunk of the vehicle. Dotson said they were transporting the birds to Saltos in California, though there were some inconsistencies outlined in the report. About an hour later, following a discussion of the truck’s ownership, the men gave verbal consent for officers to search the vehicle.
Inside, police discovered wooden boxes with 33 roosters inside. According to the report, the boxes were small — about 21 inches by 14 inches — and in poor condition. Officers also noted the boxes were stacked on top of each other, and that there was no food or water for the birds in the vehicle.
The roosters were taken to the Summit County Animal Shelter in Frisco. The truck was impounded and searched, though nothing from inside was seized. The men were then taken to the Frisco Transfer Station so that they could arrange other transportation. At the animal shelter, the roosters were taken out of the boxes, examined by a veterinarian and placed in individual kennels with water and food.
The Summit County Animal Shelter cared for the birds for about three weeks. The plan initially was to try and re-home the roosters, but officials decided against the move because of elevated risks of avian diseases that would make them impossible to safely place. On June 4, the animal shelter euthanized the birds under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services agency .
After being euthanized, the birds were sent to Colorado State University for testing. According to Hall, the results later came back negative for any of the diseases they tested for.
In July, arrest warrants were issued for all four parties on charges of felony animal fighting and misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
Both Saltos and Dotson telephoned into the court for their respective hearings on Thursday afternoon, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. District Judge Karen Romeo sentenced Saltos — who was in California at the time of the incident — to a 12 month deferred judgement, meaning the misdemeanor charge won’t go on his record if he manages to stay out of trouble over the next year, otherwise he’ll be resentenced. Romeo sentenced Dotson to one year of unsupervised probation.
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