Monthly Archives: January 2016

Clarifications to Daily Camera Article on Elza


I would like to thank Alex and the Daily Camera for taking the time to hear and relate this story. I’m hoping it leads to constructive dialog over things like end-of-life care, community and appropriate use of law-enforcement.

A few clarifications: I was in jail for thirty hours, not three. The arresting officers promised but failed to show me a warrant, and I never received a phone call. Both I requested continuously until I was released when my wife, who had been in the shower, figured out what had occurred, where I was, and bailed me out. A good bit of effort later I received a warrant document with my name on it, but no signature.

This is only a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty, and a person can run for sheriff even if they have been convicted of a felony. They can’t run if they have pled guilty to a felony, though.

I feel that many law-enforcement duties can and should be conducted without the presence of firearms. But I am most certainly not advocating they lack access or ability to use them when needed. In advocating for greater trust of residents I would also like to offer greater trust to deputies, by removing quotas and bureaucratic hurdles, and offering them the opportunity to explore non-violent solutions to social ills without fear of repercussions. The authority that deputies exert should come from trust, not fear.

In Elza’s last months she was exclusively with my family and my chosen resposibility. When she began losing weight and showed other signs of illness I made several visits to VCA Allpets down the street, and followed their recommendations for weight gain (which I was already doing) and antibiotic treatments. The vets were reluctant to refer me to‚Ä®more intensive treatments, indicating that it had little chance of helping, would be unpleasant and had a good chance of killing her. They were also reluctant to advise euthanasia, as she did not appear to be suffering and was likely to die soon. Elza hung on for many more weeks than I expected, and wife and daughter were in California when she was killed. On the morning before Elza’s death I saw a maggot on her for the first and only time. That is when I told her, my wife, and my client (I was running late) that it was the end and that evening I would end her life. When I got back it was dark out and she was missing, I went looking for her but did not find her. The next morning I was contacted and charged by animal control.

I completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to get close to a dying cat. My daughter had been somewhat put off by her dying great-grandmother. But I stand by my request that the owner be contacted directly when possible, and point out that I am facing trial, financial penalties and further time in jail. My family has dealt with loss of income and my eight-year old daughter stood alone watching me get hauled off our front steps to jail. From stories here and elsewhere it appears that appeals to the police are rarely helpful to anyone involved. In most cases there are better ways to facilitate responsible pet-ownership than killing the animal and prosecuting the family. Elza had a long and joyful life, and I am happy to have had her in my life.

2015-06-16 luggage lover

Talk To Your Neighbors

Fernsler Family

Wednesday evening 2015-12-16 Boulder city police knocked on my door and arrested me in my pajamas while playing with my daughter, claiming to have a bench warrant (turned out they didn’t). This stems from last Summer when someone discovered my missing, dying twenty-year old cat and reported it to animal control, who killed her and charged me with animal cruelty. She was wearing her collar with my name, address, and phone number on it.

Something I do and would appreciate is if someone finds a loose or distressed animal, contact the owner first. I go out of my way to return loose dogs or at least chase them away from busy roads, rather than turn them into the police to be ransomed back to their owners. It’s something I’ve been doing quietly every year for over a decade here, but I’m making the formal offer now: this is what I’ll do for you and what I request; talk to your neighbors.

There are many circumstances where police are needed, but I feel they are called too often over things that could be settled with a simple conversation between neighbors. Likewise I saw many in jail for letting an argument get too heated when one or both should have broke it off and gone for a long walk, and the law makes a mess of both those people’s lives. Fifty years ago my grandfather worked for the AFSC in Africa, traveling between insurgent warlords and colonial rulers carrying their messages to each other when they would not talk any other way. it was perilous work, and his first wife died on one of those trips. I have traveled the Earth too and navigated perilous circumstances, aided by the traditions of non-violent conflict resolution of my Quaker ancestors. These days I am not so adventurous, staying put and raising a family. But I would see peace, safety and prosperity in my neighborhood. So if you find yourself for whatever reason unable to speak with your neighbor, drop me a message and I’ll do what I can to help resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction. And if there is a complaint against me, I will listen respectfully and act for our mutual well-being.

My next court appearance in this matter is 8:30AM this Friday, January 15 2016 in courtroom E at the Boulder Courthouse at 6th and Canyon. It’s a status conference so shouldn’t take too long. I expect the city will continue to bully and cheat, so an extra few quiet observers would be welcome and helpful. I am experienced and knowledgeable in this arena, intending to defend myself vigorously, so you might also find this helpfully educational.