Letters: Life or death in Colorado’s animal shelters

No-kill vs. open-admission shelters

Re:  “We are here with compassion and care for the animals ‘no-kill’ shelters turn away Denver Animal Shelter,” Aug. 27 commentary

Melanie Sobel’s excuses for moving the Denver Animal Shelter away from no-kill are both disheartening and misleading. Yes, words matter. As such, she should do some research on the no-kill movement.

Done well, with the proper infrastructure, no-kill absolutely works at open-admissions shelters. Instead, she erroneously equates open-admissions with killing healthy, adoptable animals, as if this is a kind alternative. The fact that she is offended by the use of the word “killer” when she (as the director) is actually deciding to kill these animals (the definition of a killer) is a red herring designed to move the conversation away from her failure.

Killing does not imply malicious intent; that would be murder. Euthanasia, however, can only be used when an animal is suffering. By definition, you cannot euthanize a healthy animal. Denver Animal Shelter is a taxpayer-funded shelter. Taxpayers should be calling for her to do better. Taxpayers should expect her to understand no-kill. Taxpayers know that killing is not kindness. Yes, Ms. Sobel, words matter.

Nancy Box, Longmont

Thank you to Denver Animal Protection director Melanie Sobel for outlining some of the many harms caused by misleadingly named “no-kill” animal shelter policies.

Open-admission shelters — those that accept every animal in need, without appointments, waiting lists, fees, or other restrictions — deserve the community’s support. These facilities give animals care and protection, a chance to be adopted into loving homes, and, when needed, a gentle end to physical and psychological anguish.

No-kill policies result in more animals suffering and dying badly. In Las Vegas, for example, three dogs were abandoned in the parking lot of a publicly funded shelter, which has no-kill policies, after it turned them away. One dog was run over and had to be euthanized. In Louisiana, a dog who had been refused by a publicly funded facility with no-kill policies died after being abandoned in a crate behind a levee on a hot day. Those are fates far worse than a humane death.

As the only open-admission shelter in our area in Virginia, PETA also receives calls daily from residents who were turned away or referred to us by other shelters — including, recently, for an aggressive pit bull who had bitten a young boy in the face and had been turned away by two other shelters. There are dozens of similar examples from across the country.

The only humane way to become no-kill is to become “no-birth” by working to pass laws prohibiting breeding and pet store animal sales and requiring spaying and neutering and responsible guardianship.

Teresa Chagrin, Norfolk, Va.

Editor’s note: Chagrin is the Animal Care & Control Issues Manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Our legislators can solve the health care finance

Re: “Health insurance: The ‘Colorado Option’ left me high and dry” Aug. 27 commentary

It’s fair for Krista Kafer to offer a critique of the Colorado Option, but she really should broaden her comments because health care finance is about much more than just Colorado law. A free market exists when the buyer can walk away from the table.

When someone has high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, a car accident – you get the idea – they can’t really walk away from the table. Since the seller (insurance) knows this and takes advantage of it, some form of government intervention is required.

Things like the 80/20 rule, which states that for-profit insurers must cap their potential profits at 20% (and that they must spend at least 80 cents on the dollar on benefits), are necessary. Why do health care expenses keep going up when things like computers, other manufactured goods, software, and internet services go down in cost over time? Because health care is primarily a service industry, not a product industry.

All service industries have scalability limits. Until leaders on a multi-state or national level are willing to address limitations of for-profit financing, limitations to scalability and other key drivers of cost, all states, including Colorado, will be faced with little ability to control costs. Let’s at least give our legislators kudos for trying something, even if this attempt wasn’t successful.

Jeff Sippel, Denver

I am grateful for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Before this, I was denied health insurance but was fortunate enough to be a participant in the Colorado Uninsurable Health Insurance Plan in the mid-2000s. I was soon hired by a company that offered exceptional health benefits. I lost access to those benefits at the beginning of this year and once again was grateful that I could access health care because of the ACA/Obamacare.

Unfortunately, the plan I chose, a gold plan, turned out to be fool’s gold. Immediately, I discovered medications I had taken for years were not a part of this plan, but fortunately, I was able to purchase them on a discount drug website. Recently, I needed an outpatient procedure at a hospital. I live in central Denver, within five miles of seven hospitals. I discovered that my only option for a hospital was 72 miles away in Colorado Springs.

My health insurance company’s adjusted income from operations is anticipated to be $7.36 billion this year. I am not concerned about the diminishing Options Law that Kafer discussed; it seems they can afford it.

I have four more years until Medicare, a federal government health insurance. We need real solutions, not health-sharing plans. Health-sharing plans are not health insurance and should not be confused with real health insurance. We need to advocate for a health care plan that works for all.

Christine Betts, Denver

Archbishop’s admissions policy: justified, or immoral?

Re: “Denver Archdiocese lawsuit: Refusing to teach preschool students with gay parents is cruel,” Aug. 27 commentary

I want to thank Megan Schrader for her incisive critique of Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s assault on the children of gay parents. Schrader’s first paragraph could be carved in stone–not only as an example of good writing but as an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Catholic church.

She wrote: “Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s fight to turn some preschool children away from the schools under his control has no legal basis, no moral standing, and no foundation in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”


Religion has long been used to justify prejudice, discrimination, and other forms of social division. If he were here today, Jesus (not to mention Paul) would probably be shedding a tear to see what his church has become.

Allan Ferguson, Denver 

Megan Schrader asserts, “Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s fight to turn some preschool children away from the schools under his control has no legal basis, no moral standing, and no foundation in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

She is wrong on all three accusations.

The Catholic Church should never be required to welcome unrepentant sinners. The legal basis for this refusal is in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which gives every citizen the freedom to worship without government interference.

This Constitutional right also gives the Church the authority to teach morality.

Jesus Christ told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” Thus, morality has its foundation in His teachings.

Yes, He did say to let the little children come to Hom. To which He added, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

I don’t agree with Archbishop Aquila’s desire to have Catholic schools included in the “free” preschool offered by the State of Colorado because as soon as Catholic schools accept the “free” preschool, the State of Colorado mandates curricula and forces those schools to teach concepts contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is founded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Additionally, once “bought,” the State of Colorado infiltrates Catholic education with the immoral agenda of those who oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Please, Archbishop, let them keep their “free” preschool that would cost our children their innocence and morality.

Donna Jorgenson Farrell, Broomfield

Bravo to Megan Schrader for her informed opinion on the Catholic church’s attempt to grab our tax dollars. Public schools accept anyone who is entitled to education, regardless of their religious affiliation or belief system.

The archbishop should perhaps consider that the pious cake baker and webpage designer refuse to serve everyone, but they do not expect LGBTQ+ people to give them money anyway.

People who choose to attend religious educational institutions and not accept the “free” public option have always known they have to pay tuition. The church cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Kevin Donahue, Idaho Springs

People who attend a Catholic church are not forced or tricked into being there. The Catholic church believes what the Bible teaches: God’s plan for man is married sex between a man and a woman. If you don’t believe that, you have other options.

Going to a Catholic school is not forced; no one is tricking people into believing that they cannot attend another school that would accommodate whatever beliefs they have. We can make choices without forcing Catholics to conform to an unbiblical view.

Deanna R. Walworth, Brighton

Megan Schrader’s article is a welcome, reasoned and compassionate rebuttal of the Archdiocese of Denver’s lawsuit with its cruel and heartless proposal to exclude children of gay parents from Catholic preschool programs. Her arguments are even more compelling, given her traditional Roman Catholic upbringing and practice.

Shrader is right in pointing out how Jesus, in his life and teachings, consistently “abhorred exclusion.” Archbishop Aquila’s dogmatic arguments represent a perversion of Jesus’ commandments to, above all, “love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” By excluding these children from preschool, he is basically advancing a doctrine that innocent children should be punished for the alleged sins of their parents. This is an affront to basic human decency and contrary to the most fundamental tenets of our legal tradition.

John S. Graves, Denver

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