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Debe Bell found guilty of 35 counts of animal abuse targeting rabbits

Categories: Colorado Crimes

debe bell cropped.jpg
Big photos below.
Debe Bell, 59, has been found guilty on 35 counts of animal abuse at an Arvada property known as Six Bells Farm, where she raised rabbits.

Many of the animals appear to have suffered and died in shocking conditions captured in photos on view below.

According to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, animal control officers arrived at Six Bells Farm on July 21, 2011, in response to a tip. There, they discovered a shed containing no fewer than 193 rabbits.

debe bell.jpg
Debe Bell.
The temperature inside the structure on this hot summer day was 84 degrees, and ventilation was clearly not a priority, given the condition of the fan inside. The rabbits were kept inside cages, where they were found covered in their own filth, with little or no food to sustain them.

Surprisingly, some of the rabbits were hearty enough to survive, and once they were nursed back to health, they were readied for adoption through the Foothills Animal Shelter. However, (correction) the Jeffco DA's office says twenty of them were dead, including a number of animals found in a farm freezer.

Although necropsies on the dead animals suggested that they had experienced pain and suffering before expiring, the jury considering the case ruled Bell not guilty in their death. But that still left 35 counts of animal cruelty on which she was convicted, with each one bringing a potential eighteen months in jail.

Bell, whose license to breed animals wasn't current at the time of her arrest, will be back in court on March 20 to learn her sentence. In the meantime, look below to see photos of the conditions courtesy of Pet-Abuse.com.

1 debe bell pet abuse.jpg
Pet-Abuse.com

2 debe bell pet abuse.jpg
Pet-Abuse.com

3 debe bell pet abuse.jpg
Pet-Abuse.com

4 debe bell pet abuse.jpg
Pet-Abuse.com
Page down to see more photos.


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74 comments
majkhands
majkhands

Say what you will about Debe, if you know her, otherwise vent your rath at the true villains. Jeffco Courts Cops... The entire system is unconscionable. I give you Columbine and leave that as the poster child for Jeffco.

Personal experience in vast amounts.Rid the world of the true vermin.

As to Debe and her farm. I have never met anyone I hold in higher regard, again, personal experience.

BBTM
BBTM

I am a breeder and I find the conditions here to be absolutely disgusting and deplorable. I have thought about this situation a lot and I'm angry. I am angry at Debe first and foremost for treating animals this way. I am also angry that she has given breeders a bad name. She had so many ridiculous excuses for the conditions, but there is no legitimate excuse. This is unacceptable, period.

Rabbit activists, pet owners, etc.: rabbit breeders are not all bad people. Please do not think that this woman represents the majority.

MeganM
MeganM

She should get a year for every animal she abused and should have to clean up after animals every day of her life. You show this case to any responsible breeder and they would say that she deserves to be treated the way she treated those defenseless animals.

Mikenytola
Mikenytola

I hope she rots in hell. Any breeder defending this monster should go along with her. If you are a breeder, how can you support this monster who gives all breeders a bad rep? The only reasoning is that you are just as much a sorry excuse for a human being as she is. Pictured paint a thousand words and the more people defend her, the more I think the police should start looking at them as well.

Tmamma55
Tmamma55

Target breeders? Yes, by all means target breeders and use what ever is necessary to put them out of business. Target meat farms and fur farms and put them out of business. The end justifies the means. Every breeder should have to live the life of their victims for at least a month. The punishment should fit the crime.

Steve
Steve

I have two friends who both breed rabbits here in the Bay Area and they were stunned when they saw these photos.  you can debate all you want about her rights as a breeder but the cages don't speak to being very well cared for animals. Just because an animal CAN survive situations like these doesn't mean they SHOULD. Anyone that justified this based on 'rights' of the owner would never let their children or themselves live this way. You are either a breeder for pets or a livestock producer but I seriously doubt anyone has the zoning, laws and proper facilities to do both this badly. I can't believe the state would even THINK about okaying something like that.

Someone said rabbits just snap their own backs. Only rabbits that are enduring painful concentration camp like conditions and high stress situations seek to self harm. Really, anyone that would justify finding 20 rabbits in a freezer as food-when in fact the person calls herself a breeder-shouldn't be raising animals of any kind. I've eaten rabbit before. These rabbits are not the kind of rabbits sold for food consumption unless for snakes-and no where does it say she was breeding for fur(as one posted suggested).

you can debate the anti-cruelty and politics of the area all your want but those cages were atrocious. no breeder and lover of rabbits would defend the conditions these rabbits were in and anyone that would doesn't belong caring for animals that are supposed to end up as pets. Plus, as food, the conditions are even MORE unsanitary. All the people defending her, please tell me this is not the standard for rabbit care in your state. I've BEEN to slaughterhouses where rabbit was produced and even THEY were cleaner than this.

News Wire
News Wire

JEFFCO = Home to Colorado's Taliban

News Wire
News Wire

Meat is Murder !

Unless all the complainers, whiners and jurors are vegetarians, they should not throw stones.

Has anyone seen the torture and abuse from a Kosher slaughterhouse ?

http://snipurl.com/221f0k4

John Sullivan
John Sullivan

Although I feel for the rabbits, What has happened to our way of living when children are abused the way they are and we're worried about rabbits.  Really rabbits?  I say make stew

cerealmom
cerealmom

If she was raising them for fur she would not want them to wallow in their own waste....

Dpostisamolestor
Dpostisamolestor

Lesbian lawyer Dianne Post has forced little girls to lick Dianne Posts anus after she shits. Dianne Post, Bar No.006141 1826 E Willetta St Phoenix, AZ 85006 - 3047 602 - 271 - 9019

UnAmerican
UnAmerican

Rabbits are rodents and rodents are vermin.

The typical American attitude towards other living things is to kill em', especially rodents like these.

This true American deserves a medal.

hillbillyluvfest
hillbillyluvfest

Aw and the breeders show up and make their case. They cant stand the thought that they might be forced by law to provide decent and humane standards to all animals. Pric@ks from the sticks and their "god given" rights. PFFFT

meadow
meadow

Mr. Roberts,  You are a very careless journalist who has not fact-checked your article.  Instead you chose to make your article sensational.  I am surprised Westword publishes your work.

Anon
Anon

Bunnylvr2987 Thekatsmeow1234   You are both correct!  Our legal system is severely flawed!  I was present at the court case and can't believe the verdict of the jury!  It was so obvious that the DA had concocted a bunch of lies to feed the jury. It was so obvious that I can't believe the jury came back with anything but innocent of the counts of animal CRUELTY. No one is saying a few of the cages could not have been cleaner. But none of those conditions had ANY EFFECT WHATOSEVER on the HEALTH of the rabbits!!! This fact was proven by the Vet Exam Reports, verbalizations by folks who were at the raid, Foothills Animal Shelter workers, and numerous pictures of healthy rabbits. I am glad the jury only came back with 35 misdemeanors for dirty bowls, long toenails and tangled fur. But NONE of those 35 rabbits were UNHEALTHY or ABUSED.

It was not a jury of Debe's peers either. There weren't any farmers or ranchers on the jury. No one was on the jury who fit her peers as a demographic. The only thing they had in common was they all lived in Jeffco.

This raid was not because the rabbits were in danger and being mistreated. It goes much higher than that and it is Entirely Political. That was also realized with the way the judge was blatantly overriding LAWS just because it didn't suit her!!!  No wonder they have filed an appeal! This is going to FEDERAL COURT and JEFFCO and Cohorts (hopefully Foothills Animal Shelter and Animal Control agents) will be sued for civil rights abuse and wrongful seizure, destroying an entire herd of livestock and lord only knows how many counts against the judge about ignoring county, state, and federal laws!

Get ready folks cause the battle has only begun!

Techgeek
Techgeek

There was a time when Westword did investigative journalism. Now they shills for the Jeffco government. I fairly sure they never interviewed Ms. Bell, and took the word of a bunch of politicians.

Techgeek
Techgeek

I have been following this case. This seems to be calculated to garner votes for the sheriff, DA etc. Meanwhile, as I understand it, all the animals were healthy and well fed, with the exceptions of those that were killed and frozen to feed carnivores. Just wait till government decides to make political fodder over some part of your life, say your house, your job or your kids.

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

There's been some confusion about the number of dead rabbits. Were there 55 dead rabbits? 

Ah, I see the correction: 20 dead rabbits.

Bunnylvr2987
Bunnylvr2987

Entire herd and 20 years of breeding destroyed with charges on only a fraction of the herd – all healthy animals. Law enforcement enters the property without a warrant, misrepresents material facts to the Judge ultimately issuing the warrant, hours later, while armed deputies intimidate the breeder into relinquishing the entire herd while animals are mishandled under threat of arrest for offering to assist in the proper handling and safe transport of the animals. National Grand Champion bloodlines destroyed through neutering and spaying breeding livestock before any charges are filed and initial arraignment held.  Animals injured and killed in care of animal shelter.Volunteer in seizure says, “if this works, we will target breeder off 120th Avenue.”  That action is now proceeding.Animal Defense League attorney coaches Jefferson County Prosecutors while judge denies all defense motions asserting constitutional and procedural violations.  The owner is denied access for her veterinarian to examine the animals after seizure, effectively destroying the evidence needed for her defense.Ag School pathologist expressed opinions that industry standard dispatching techniques are incorrect, recommending suffocation of the animals as a humane alternative. Another Ag School Veterinarian supports and aids the groups which are opposed to the breeding of the animals or their use for food or fiber.Vagueness of Colorado Statutes allows animal neglect claims to be unsubstantiated, while entire breeding herd is seized and destroyed. As an association representing and supporting the livestock breeding industry in Colorado, you have heard member concerns from members regarding the many and varied animal rights groups working zealously to redefine the meanings of livestock, methods of herd management and the rights of owners with regard to their business and livelihood. Crazy PETA ads here and there are more commonplace. TV ads soliciting donations to the HSUS to save animals, even though HSUS operates not a single shelter and actually seeks to end private ownership of all animals are frequently running on TV right now.Now, through wrinkles in statutes, fine and money hungry local dog catchers seeking to expand their authority and budget, and the support of adherents to these fringe groups, the onslaught is coming to Colorado.

Show
Show

I would really like to know how the author of the blog arrived at the number 55 for dead rabbits? That was never reported anywhere including by animal control. So exactly how did the author of this statement arrive at the number 55? There was according to Jeffco Sheriffs dept own warrant in the barn, exactly ONE dead rabbit. So does the author claim knowledge the law enforcement did not have?

okccris
okccris

I hope she rots in prison just like she left her rabbits to rot.

Tangerine
Tangerine

Sorry to seem rude, but Westword's news blog has just gotten so, well, sorry to say, but awful. It takes me all of two minutes to scroll past the constant blog posts about marijuana and Occupy Denver (is that even still a thing?)

Who needs or wants to see these pictures of dirty rabbits? Moreover: I read a better version of this story more than 24 hrs ago on the Denver Post website and it was on the news last night. The blogosphere is supposed to be faster, not a day late. This "Alternative News" has become s rehash of old news Westword picked up from the mainstream media. Not surprisingly, today you have 15 comments on 10 news articles. I just read a rather benign story in the Denver Post about savings accounts that had 44 comments. I really like ya, Westword, but please, do more and do it faster than the competition. Report news and stop just rewriting it. Thank you for reading my hopefully constructive criticism. 

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

I would say 55 rabbits is far more than the few she stated had died. 

Now perhaps all her defenders will rethink their defense. 

anonymous
anonymous

just because there is abuse of children, means we should ignore the abuse of other living things? And it is a proven fact that people that abuse animals are way more likely to start abusing people. So even if you don't care about the abuse of innocent rabbits, think about what they could do to actual humans.

useYourBrain
useYourBrain

LOL! Typical thinking of the uneducated. Rabbits are rodents? You are either a comedian or just really stupid. Rabbits are laogomorphs genius.

okccris
okccris

Rabbit are not rodents genius. Check your fact troll.

kimbev69
kimbev69

How can u call yourself bunnylvr seriously

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

She was found guilty by a jury of her peers.

So evidently what you're saying is ignore the photos, the laws, what three vets said, the police, the judge, the jury, and everyone else--Debe is right, everyone else is wrong.

Do I have that right?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Show, I've taken another look at the material supplied by the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, and it doesn't specifically state that 55 rabbits were found dead. However, it does make specific reference to "the manner in which 20 rabbits were killed." With that in mind, I've corrected the reference and added a parenthetical note about a clarification. My apologies for the error. Thanks for the note.

UnAmerican
UnAmerican

I hope Uncle Sam forecloses your home and tosses your family out on the street and sells your property at a fire-sale.  Then you can become a hero to rabbits everywhere!.

Kls798
Kls798

There were NOT 55 dead rabbits. There was one that died, a couple that died in the care of animal control that put in boxes in a metal trailer on a hot day, and the 20 that were humanely euthanized as meat rabbits in the freezer she was not charged with.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Constructive criticism is always appreciated, Tangerine. Thanks.

Show
Show

Well Shelley, yes, that is way more rabbits than the owner claimed that is true. It is also way more than the sheriffs department, animal control, and the court claimed. So explanation? Actually all this blog showed Debe's defenders is we have to get work because with lies and exaggerations way beyond the scope of the actual legal paperwork is going to be a problem obviously.I also want to point out the 35 counts? That is not per dead rabbit people. That is per violation- i.e. rust in cages, four dirty cages with poop, some water crocks etc. The 35 counts is NOT 35 dead rabbits. I would hope people unless of course they are teeny boppers would not attempt to exaggerate or falsify information in order to further their own agenda here. And I also think you all need to learn how to read a search warrant and an animal control affadivit of charges, both of whihc are online for Debe and written by law enforcement, Unless of course you are accusing House Rabbit Society and the Jeffco Animal Control of trying to cover up for Debe maybe? just because your numbers are way off.

okccris
okccris

That is doubtful Shelley. Apparently someone "knew the facts" and that is why she was found guilty but her defenders will defend her no matter what. They dont care about what happened to those rabbits, only their rights as breeders.

okccris
okccris

Although I suspect you might be a rodent.

News Wire
News Wire

O.J. and Casey Anthony were found not guilty by juries of their peers.

okccris
okccris

Aw arent you a sweetie.......better a hero to rabbits that ignorant trash that is a hero to nobody.

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

According to this article, the rabbits were not humanely killed. It sounds like they died because of their conditions. 

You know, all you have to do is look at the conditions in the photos--really, do you all defend this? Is this what all of your rabbit enclosures like?

Ssperkins03312
Ssperkins03312

How would you like to see 35 children in a foster home, living in their own feces, dirty cloth, drink molded milk, sleep on wire? Bunnies are God's creactures, and I am against using them for food or fur. But if that's how they end up they should be treated with kindness!!!!

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

So, it's 20 dead rabbits, and that makes everything OK, show?

She was convicted of 35 counts of abuse. That's pretty serious. I would say more was wrong than a little extra poop. 

You've never seen her place, and the photos are atrocious, but you're willing to defend her.

You don't seem to realize how she makes the rest of you look bad. 

Unless, the photos show the norm for rabbit breeders?

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Agree. A 100%. 

Even with the photos, she's been defended--which makes me really wonder about the state of most rabbit breeders in the country. Thing is, I knew someone who was a breeder when I was a kid, and his place was definitely not like these photos. And I've seen photos of other breeders, and again, the places were light, airy, clean, and the rabbits were healthy and comfortable.

They're so caught up in defense of Debe Bell that they don't realize how much they're hurting all rabbit breeders.

okccris
okccris

Yikes my darn keyboard keeps sticking.

Exador3
Exador3

 Like I heard a judge say one time, "There's no conspiracy against you.  Honestly, you're not that important."

okccris
okccris

Keep up the good work Shelley. I have seen breeders and how they dispatch rabbits. You are doing good work girl!

Jackie Cote' Marshall
Jackie Cote' Marshall

Look up cervical dislocation...you think suffocation would be the way to go? How would you do it? Oh, that's right...you wouldn't eat rabbit. My deceased rabbits go to the World Bird Sanctuary to rehabilitate birds so they can be returned to the wild. Who is lining the pockets of the government? Special Interest groups. Who is stomping all over our rights? OUR GOVERNMENT! I am so tired of one-sided reporting. This reporter didn't get both sides before reporting the so-called facts of this case. As is always the case, we can spin a story anyway we want be leaving out details or exaggerating facts. If you really don't think so, then you are very naive. I have seen your comments in many places and you are definitely completely out of touch with reality, IMO. I don't know whether or not her rabbitry was a quality place, but I do know that this was a case of rights being trampled on and special interest groups putting their pocket books and their spin on a situation and blowing it completely out of proportion. Nothing here at all screams abuse to me, except the abuse of power in the government. This needs to stop!

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Because the person I was responding to says they know her and that's how she killed the rabbits. Did you follow the comment thread?

And who paid the government to close down this rabbit breeder? Who is this shadow government that dug deep into its pockets because it wanted to close down this breeder?

Did you look at the photos? Do you really believe this was a quality place?

Jackie Cote' Marshall
Jackie Cote' Marshall

What makes you think you know how these rabbits were dispatched? I am here to tell you that I have had rabbits break their backs (spines) and they were still alive, we had to dispatch them humanely to put them out of their misery. You assume that because we rabbit breeders defend her rights to raise and breed animals that we excuse the few photos that blow this whole "abuse" thing out of proportion. ALL of those rabbits appeared healthy to me. I saw no reports of malnutrition or heat stress or anything that would say to me that these rabbits were being abused. 

And you seriously believe that there is no corruption in our government? Please! It's all about MONEY and who's pockets are being lined. 

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Broke their necks, eh? Oh, excuse me -- she snapped their spines. 

The anonymous tipster wasn't the accuser--the county was the accuser. 

Entry was by police, and they had a search warrant. 

You just accused the judge of ignorance of law...seriously? 

And outside groups agitated to have charges against Bell dropped. 

And what does zoning have to do with abusing a rabbit? Doesn't matter where you abuse a rabbit--the rabbit is abused. 

Bunnylvr2987
Bunnylvr2987

Actually I know her and I watched the case in court last week.  The meat rabbits were euthanized by cervical dislocation, which Debe's vet testified was a humane method of death and the jury agreed.  You have never been to her barn, you don't know her, you profess to be an expert on the case, and you are nothing more than one of those AR nutcases.  You are missing vital points of what is going on here: This is one small case which contains all the elements of a perfect storm against individual freedom, personal property due process. 1.       Anonymous funding of rewards for tips from callers unknown to the citizen – losing her right to know the identity of her accuser. 2.       Extraordinary overreach by regulatory, quasi-police power animal control officers including, failure to follow Ag Dept rules for dealing with livestock, entry without permission of owner, confiscation without warrant and destruction of the herd without due process and before a hearing before a judge. 3.       Judicial Arrogance was demonstrated at an unprecedented level ignoring the law and actively assisting one side in the case with not even the appearance of impartiality. 4.       Outside political groups actively supporting and pushing criminal prosecutions by the government to further their political goals, using the criminal courts to further their political agenda with regard to animals.5.      Zoning violations raised after the officers on site for the seizure called in  zoning code enforcement for a structure in place since the 1970’s.

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

I've seen Debe Bell's web site. I don't see anything about meat rabbits. I do see a lot about rabbits being pets. 

Is this how it works? It's a pet rabbit when you want to sell it, but if you get busted, then it's a meat rabbit?

And I would say the photos show more than 4 dirty cages, wouldn't you? 

Seriously, you're asking us to ignore the photo because you know different...when I have a feeling you really don't know Debe Bell, and have never been to her place. 

Bunnylvr2987
Bunnylvr2987

This article is terribly innacurate in the correct details.  There were 55 charges, 20 of which were for meat rabbits in the freezer. Which this jury determined were not killed inhumanely. 35 LIVE rabbits were the other charges for various things like a mat in the fur, a long toe nails, spilled water bowl . 35 charges were for things like that. There were not 55 dead rabbits in her barn or in her care. You can't believe everything the media is reporting, they are exaggerating the facts of the case. Yes, there were 4 dirty cages. 

anonymous
anonymous

wow. the article states "necropsies on the dead animals suggested that they had experienced pain and suffering before expiring". That is definitely cause to become upset for innocent living things that suffered this horrible fate by this horrible person. If you don't care about animals, whether they be cute and fluffy or not, don't comment on other people that actually have a heart.

UnAmerican
UnAmerican

Just another typical hysterical American female.

She's say the SAME THING about beanie babies cuz, "They're so cute and fluffy!"

PUKE!!!!!!!!

Shelley Powers
Shelley Powers

Who want to eat rabbit meat from a place like that shown in the photos? And she wasn't convicted of the 20 dead rabbits--she was convicted of abuse for 35 live rabbits. Abuse. You know abuse is, don't you? That's when you cram too many rabbits into a little dark shed in hot weather with no ventilation, leave them without enough food and water, sitting on piles of poop--including poop in their now empty water dishes. That's abuse. 

I give up--you all ignore the evidence, the findings, the vet reports, the photos--anything in your demand for "property rights" -- no matter what the costs. 

Wasting my time. 

Henwhisperer
Henwhisperer

The dead rabbit were in the freezer because rabbit meat is tasty and they were going to eat them. Wouldn't be refreshing if some people took the time to find out things for themselves rather than relying on the word of yellow-journalism.

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