More than 100 animals were seized this week from the Laughing Valley Ranch southwest of Idaho Springs, whose owner, Bill Lee, is beloved locally for his portrayal of Santa Claus.
On Wednesday the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office, along with 13 other agencies, seized geese, dogs, llamas, rabbits, mules, horses, goats, sheep, a pony, alpacas, cats — and reindeer. Officials indicated there were concerns about the animals living in unsanitary conditions.
Lee, who is widely known for his portrayals of Santa Claus and other colorful characters, also features some of the animals in petting zoos at local events.
"I didn't really fully understand it," Lee said Friday of the seizure of his animals. "I have been addressing some issues (the county has) brought about. … I thought that my animals were in good shape and well cared for."
Sheriff's Capt. Bruce Snelling said the animals were seized Wednesday morning by more than a dozen law-enforcement officials. The Sheriff’s Office said an investigation will continue, and that it could be several weeks before the district attorney makes a decision on filing charges..." More