Letter to Judge Julie Field and DA Cliff Riedel
October 22, 2018
The Honorable Judge Julie Kunce Field
8th Judicial District
Larimar County Judicial Center
201 La Porte Ave Suite 100
Ft. Collins, CO 80521
Re: HACKLEMAN, BRYAN Disposition Hearing D352018CR2258
I am writing about a hearing before you tomorrow, October 23. Though I am writing as concerned citizen, I also have expertise in the field of clinical social work that spans three decades and as a professional caregiver for animals.
The accused in facing a class 6 felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. The cat he adopted three days earlier was found stabbed to death in the closet of his bedroom. Newspaper reports stated there were other animals in the room but did not give details about their condition. There are also multiple reports of missing cats in the same neighborhood. His roommate called in the report after hearing the noises when the cat was killed.
I realize all the facts are not in and people are innocent until proven otherwise. However, I would like to submit the information attached for your consideration. Animal cruelty is often dismissed as an anger management problem or morbid curiosity, which totally overlooks the underlying behavioral, moral and psychiatric associations.
In this case, the defendant stated that the cat bit him and he lost his temper. I work with cats and there is an instinctual reaction to push them away when that happens. But, stabbing them to death with a knife (and hiding the body in the closet) is not within the normal range of reactions, even for people with ‘anger management problems’ who lack other mental and behavioral health concerns.
I had planned to be there for the hearing, but I live in Bailey and it seems more prudent to simply submit these concerns for your review. I appreciate your consideration as you contemplate the case. My opinion as a therapist, animal caregiver and citizen is that we must prevent further violence by requiring people who exhibit these behaviors to get professional help, sooner rather than later.
LuAnn Pierce, LCSW
Director, Colorado Companion Animal Sanctuary
Cc: District Attorney Cliff Riedel
Op-Ed – Bryan Hackleman Case – Ft. Collins
You don’t have to be an animal activist to realize that torturing and stabbing a cat to death must be taken seriously. This is not the time for the three-strikes rule. It is a serious, violent behavior. We don't have to wait until the victim is human to demand treatment.
Bryan Hackleman was arrested recently on a class 6 felony charge of animal cruelty. His excuse? The cat bit him and he reacted by throwing it against the wall.
Police found evidence that he may have tortured the cat with a screwdriver before stabbing it to death with a knife. They removed more animals from his room but did not specify if they were alive or dead. Other cats in the neighborhood are missing and he is mentioned as a possible suspect.
Studies show 25 – 63% of incarcerated violent offenders report a history of animal cruelty or murder. Not all animal killers graduate to interpersonal violence, but many do.
Researchers believe violent behavior is partly biological, as well as social, behavioral, and cognitive. Much of it is learned. It is usually passed down through modeling or heredity - generally both.
Effective treatment must address all these issues to be effective. Anger management alone can’t touch these problems.
History tells us these offenders opt-out of treatment if there is a choice. Court-ordered treatment for Bryan Hackleman is the responsible thing to do.
Judge Field is required to order an evaluation and may order anger management or other treatment based on the outcome. This is not simply an anger management problem – treatment must be comprehensive to address all the factors involved; anger management or poor impulse control may be one small part.
Please urge her to take a strong stance on sentencing and court-order comprehensive treatment rather the band aid or anger management classes.
As a society we must protect each other. Speak up – do your part. Stop the violence now.