(Las Animas, CO) -- Even though animal rights activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) contacted the 16th judicial district attorney asking for animal cruelty to be added to William Gregory Champney's charges, there's a process for adding charges.
Assistant district attorney Jim Bullock explained that they can add charges should the facts be established that animals were harmed during the fire. Bullock said he couldn't comment further on the case, or what their actions would be at this time.
Greg Champney is awaiting his first appearance in court, set for Monday, June 6th at 1:30 on his hearing on advisement following five charges relating to the Ft. Lyon fire April 12th, 2022. Three of those charges are arson charges.
The Fort Lyon fire destroyed two homes near Ft. Lyon and burned nearly 3,000 acres. Multiple animals were also killed or injured in that blaze and that's why the animal rights group has shown interest in the southeast Colorado case.
According to a news release from PETA sent to the media:
PETA notes that causing this kind of unjustifiable pain, suffering, and death should be recognized as a violation of Colorado’s animal 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 notes 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, 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.
The news release includes a link to a letter to 16th Juridical district attorney Will Culver asking him to add the charges of animal cruelty.
Right now, Champney is on leave from his position from the City of Las Animas as a code enforcement officer.
(The Kiowa County Independent assisted in this story)