Vulnerable Creatures

Vulnerable Creatures

A kitten is injured. Christian Breuer, a young autistic man, is the only suspect. His fiancée triggers an animal cruelty investigation, then disappears. Christian faces charges based on a faulty affidavit, compelled into a calloused legal system which has little understanding of and makes no considerations for his disability. People with autism are vulnerable to bullying and domestic abuse, and often have tragic run-ins with law enforcement. Given that 1 in 44 children today are identified as autistic, Christian's story shows how neurodiversity may be the next human rights movement. Support this podcast:


February 24, 2024 34 mins

After listening to our podcast, a veterinarian comes forward to share details of her own run-in with animal law enforcement and the DA's office. An incident between her and her neighbor's dogs forces her into the legal system, where she too feels compelled to take a plea to "make it stop." (Episode utilizes voice distortion to maintain the vet's anonymity, for fear of employment retribution.)

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Animal law enforcement officers lack oversight. Six months later, the DA’s office finally responds to our inquiry into the discrepancies in Christian’s charging document. We look deeper into the goings-on at their offices, after a suicide there sparks scrutiny. Corporal Cheney loses her job, can now speak openly with us, and wants to tell her side of the story, including how the system has failed her too. Christian’s family drags t...

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November 9, 2022 45 mins

Christian struggles with a sense of justice (mis)served. His father decries the legal system’s coldness, and failures. A new attorney for the family takes up post-conviction relief, to undo Christian’s plea and reclaim his innocence. We learn what that is, and how it works. The prosecution, and court, respond. A systems thinker, who works to develop institutional empathy across public organizations, explains their (over)capacity pr...

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November 2, 2022 43 mins

“They shouldn’t be allowed to walk amongst us.” Prosecutors, judges and police officers lack sufficient training needed to make accommodations for autism inside the legal system. We examine why people take coercive plea deals. Christian struggles with a sense of justice (mis)served. Autism experts detail life in jail for someone on the spectrum. Society’s mixed messages on animal welfare, and call for humane community principles. A...

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October 26, 2022 49 mins

“It’s like a fingerprint, like a shadow.” We learn more about autism in general, and how it affects Christian specifically. Christian tells Andrea what he says really happened to Storm — is his explanation a possible, and believable one? Veterinarians weigh in. The backstory of Andrea and Christian’s relationship. Who was really running the show? Christian's lie haunts him. To plea or not to plea? That is the question.

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October 19, 2022 37 mins

Domestic violence experts introduce us to “the link” and outline the dynamics of control and manipulation. A private investigator goes searching for an elusive “director.” Andrea explains why she called animal law enforcement, and what she did, and didn’t say. Veterinarians recount their interactions with her, and her concerned mother, confirming that they never documented animal abuse. Corporal Cheney defends her fieldwork. Andrea...

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October 19, 2022 35 mins

“We protect pets from people, and people from pets.” Matthew and Lauren go on a ride along with Animal Law Enforcement, learning what they do on an average day, how they’re trained, and the legal power they wield. Corporal Cheney investigates Storm’s injuries, documenting that they could “only” be human-caused. Multiple veterinarians contradict her report. Andrea seeks a restraining order against Christian. Discrepancies start to p...

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October 19, 2022 22 mins

Colorado Springs, 2018. Christian Breuer, 21, returns home from a Thanksgiving holiday out-of-state with his family, to find his apartment half-empty and his fiancée, Andrea, and their kitten, Storm, gone. There’s only a note, that reads “I love you, Chris.” The next day, he learns he’s being investigated for animal cruelty. We meet veteran Animal Law Enforcement Officer, Corporal Vicky Cheney and examine her early case notes: amon...

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October 13, 2022 2 mins

A true story of an autistic young man accused of animal cruelty.

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