The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in Stulp, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture v. Schuman on August 30, 2012.
Animal Protection Act—Permanent Injunction From Owning Livestock—Due Process.
In this action under the Animal Protection Act, defendants Dean Schuman and Schuman Cattle, LLC appealed the permanent injunction entered against them by plaintiff John Stulp, the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture (Commissioner), enjoining defendants from owning, managing, controlling, or otherwise possessing livestock in Logan County. The order was affirmed.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Protection (CDA) inspected defendants’ property after receiving complaints of dead cattle on the ranch. The court found that defendants were not fit to provide for the health and well-being of the cattle they owned. The court ordered the Commissioner to seize all cattle from defendants’ ranch and sell them at auction, and permanently enjoined defendants from owning, managing, controlling, or otherwise possessing livestock in Logan County.
Defendants contended the trial court exceeded its authority by permanently enjoining them from owning, managing, controlling, or possessing livestock in Logan County. The Court of Appeals disagreed. Defendants were starving the cattle to death and failing to treat any injured or sick cattle. They expressed no remorse, took no responsibility for past acts or omissions, and offered no evidence of rehabilitation. The Act authorized the trial court to permanently enjoin defendants from future ownership of livestock to enforce compliance with its provisions.
Defendants also contended that the permanent injunction violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and article II, § 3 of the Colorado Constitution. The rights to own animals and conduct a livestock business are not unlimited and can be abrogated in appropriate circumstances. Under the circumstances presented here, including the overwhelming evidence of defendants’ unwillingness to conform to accepted methods of animal husbandry, it was not a constitutional violation for the trial court to permanently enjoin defendants from owning livestock.
Summary and full case available here.