FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 14, 2022
CHARGES FILED IN GRAND COUNTY HORSE SEIZURE
GRAND COUNTY, CO- On February 14, 2022, arrests warrants were issued for Derek Michael Zurface D.O.B. 01/15/1987, identified as the Ranch Manager of Snow Mountain Stables and Theresa Adeline LaGrande, D.O.B. 10/20/1998, identified as a Ranch Hand at Snow Mountain Stables for violations of three (3) counts CRS 18-9-202(1.5)(b) cruelty to animals a class 6 felony, ninety one (91) counts CRS 19-9-202(1)(a) cruelty to animals a class 1 misdemeanor.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office and equine agents completed a welfare check of equine animals at Snow Mountain Stables located at 1101 CR 53 near Granby, in unincorporated Grand County on January 10, 2022. On January 11, 2022, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with partner agencies and assistance from the Colorado Humane Society, executed a court issued search warrant at the Snow Mountain Stables in reference to the ongoing allegations of animal cruelty and neglect. This operation took place across a two-day period on January 11 and 12.
The investigation ultimately resulted in two caretakers for the horses, Mr. Zurface and Ms. LaGrande, being charged. Colorado law regarding criminal responsibility requires of proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to all statutory elements of a crime, including the mandated culpable state of mind, and here, the investigation did not reveal facts to support charging the owners of the animals with any crimes under Colorado law.
The stables at this location are operated through a private vendor formerly under contract with the YMCA of the Rockies, and are not owned or operated by the YMCA of the Rockies. Through the investigation it was learned that the YMCA of the Rockies was in the process of terminating the lease contract with Snow Mountain Stables.
According to veterinary professionals helping to care for the animals, as of February 11, 2022 there are eighteen equine animals documented as permanently injured, lame and ill that should be medically retired.
The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.