LAKEWOOD – A state employee’s penchant for sending out tweets to his 1,032 followers has prompted his bosses to tell his co-workers to take it easy for the time being on social networking websites. It’s also prompted the local head of the Humane Society of the United States to call the employee’s actions “appalling.”
Scot Dutcher is the chief of the Colorado Department of Agriculture Animal Protection Bureau. Basically, he oversees more than 100 commissioned agents across the state charged with looking into animal neglect and cruelty cases. Online and on Twitter he’s also known as “Skinnyhorse.””
Over the last year and a half “Skinnyhorse” has helped author 4,698 tweets. Many of them are apolitical, but some are not. Before the site was changed in the last week, he called himself an “unapologetic American” who is “anti-animal rights.” In one tweet he urged his followers to “take our country back” and in another he sarcastically called on people to “eat more polar bears.” In another he mentioned “that success over animal rights is the best revenge.”
He has also clearly developed strong negative feelings for the Humane Society of the United States, a vocal animal advocacy group and has shared his thoughts about the HSUS on a number of occasions.
Last week, the local head of HSUS, Holly Tarry, says she finally had enough and notified Dutcher’s bosses.
“I was appalled that a state employee charged with protecting animals would clock in and spend his day turning out anti-animal protection tweets,” Tarry said. “It makes me mad.”
Tarry asked on Monday if Dutcher is still capable of handling his duties considering his antagonistic views toward animal-rights advocates.
His boss said on Monday afternoon he still has confidence in a man he calls “a hardworking” employee.
“There really shouldn’t be any reason why organizations shouldn’t be able to trust him,” Jim Miller, the deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said.
Even still he did say the Dutcher was reminded of the department’s policy on social networking.
“It wasn’t authorized. We didn’t know about it, and it was something that we spoke with him about. He understood that he wasn’t supposed to be doing that,” Miller said.
Miller declined to say of Dutcher had been reprimanded in any way. Late last week, Miller did send out an email to all of the department’s employees outlining the “Social Networking Policy.”