Colorado AG accuses animal shelter of fraud

Chris Rizo Dec. 10, 2008, 8:00pm

John Suthers (R)

DENVER (Legal Newsline)-Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has filed a lawsuit seeking a management change at the Colorado Humane Society for not filing financial statements and killing animals.

The lawsuit seeks to remove shelter director Mary Warren, her husband, and her daughter from their positions because they failed to properly register the shelter as a charity and because the facility, which claims to be a "no kill" facility, was actually euthanizing almost 30 percent of its animals.

A 27-page complaint filed in Arapahoe County District Court alleges that Warren was approving euthanasia for large dogs that were taking up too much space, or were unlikely to be adopted.

"I have taken decisive action today that I believe is necessary to preserve an important charitable institution whose history dates back to 1881," Suthers said in a statement.

"While the lawsuit's allegations will wait to be proven at trial, I felt the most important order of business was to ask the court to appoint a custodian to operate the Colorado Human Society's shelter and protect the charitable assets during the pendency of the lawsuit," he added.

The attorney general said because the shelter was not registered under the Charitable Solicitations Act, it was not eligible to raise money. Court papers say the family raised nearly $3 million in donations.

The three defendants are accused by the attorney general's office of running the animal shelter as a family business rather than as a charitable organization.

"Individual defendants have co-mingled CHS finances with their own personal finances to an extent that the integrity of CHS finances has been brought into question," the lawsuit alleges.

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