Wednesday, April 16, 2008

At War with ARistas?

I usually think it is not quite this bad yet, but when Phyllis McDonald sent me this from the UKC I nearly choked. RTWT, but here is an excerpt.

"Robert Attleson lives in Littleton, Colorado, where he and his long-time partner, Melissa, raise English Setters. In addition to breeding and showing dogs, Bob is active in an organization called “All Setter Rescue.” Bob has lived in his home long enough that his mortgage is paid off, so about 18 months ago, he bought the house next door, partly as a tax shelter. The number of dogs at Bob’s house fluctuates as he raises and sells his litters, and moves the occasional rescue dog in and out. In the decades that Bob has lived in Littleton, not one complaint has been lodged against him for barking, for smells, or for letting his dogs run loose. When the Littleton city leaders passed a dog limit law, Bob thought his second property would keep him within the requirements of the law. The city fathers didn’t see it his way. Instead, Bob became a target for harassment by animal control. Like most citizens who have never had to fight their own government, Bob tried to be reasonable, but he soon realized that he would have to leave Littleton altogether.

"He purchased property 60 miles outside of Littleton, but couldn’t move his dogs immediately because he needed to put up fencing. On February 14, Bob told city officials that he would have all of the dogs out of Littleton by February 18. Animal Control insisted on a meeting with Bob on February 19 to verify that the dogs were indeed gone, so they agreed to meet at 10 a.m. Having settled this, Bob and Melissa headed out to the Plum Creek Kennel Club dog show the following morning to show their English Setters, Pig and Jo, in the Best Brace competition.

"Meanwhile, animal control, knowing that Bob was out of town at the dog show, requested an emergency court hearing on Friday, February 15. The Court called Bob’s home and left a message informing him of the hearing. When he failed to show, the Court issued a fugitive warrant and authorized animal control to seize Bob’s dogs. According to a neighbor, animal control staked out Bob’s home to ensure that Bob and Melissa actually left the house before the raid. Neighbors told Bob that animal control came to the house, and when no one answered the door, departed quickly. What the neighbors didn’t know was that animal control was going back to the judge to request a forcible entry warrant. About four in the afternoon, four police cars, two animal control vehicles (one from out of town, since Littleton only has one animal control truck), six police officers and two animal control agents arrived at Bob’s two houses. A battering ram was used to break down the front door of the first house and the back door of the second. A window was broken so that officers could hand a litter of nine four-week-old pups through the window to waiting animal control officers. In total, four adult dogs, including the dam of the still-nursing pups, were removed from the two houses, and sent to the Colorado Humane Society. (Note: Just a few months ago, the Colorado Humane Society was the subject of a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General because of questions of financial management and care of the animals. As a result, the city of Littleton actually canceled its contract with Colorado Humane. Interestingly, the current Littleton animal control officer is a former employee of Colorado Humane.)

"Melissa came home about 6:00 to check on the puppies. Seeing her doors broken down and windows broken, she raced inside to discover that her dogs were gone. There was a note telling Bob that when he came home from the dog show, he was to turn in his three show dogs to animal control. The note included an order from the judge that none of Bob’s dogs were to be returned to him or to any person who may be a friend of Bob’s. Melissa finally reached Bob on his cell phone. He was happily telling her that their brace of English Setters had won Best Brace in Show when Melissa told him that he needed a criminal lawyer, and fast. Bob took the three show dogs to their home in Strasburg.


"During the pre-hearing negotiations, the prosecutor agreed to let Bob have all of his dogs back, but he had to plead guilty and agree to an outrageous sentence. This deal allowed Bob to meet his top priorities - he got his dogs back and he didn’t have to go to jail. However, he got three years deferred jail time, $3,000 in fines and another $1,000 to reimburse the county for the “care” of his dogs. In addition, for the next three years, animal control may make unannounced inspections of his two homes in Littleton, and Bob is not allowed to bring a dog into Littleton, even to go to the veterinarian. Finally, Bob was forced to agree to an inspection of his Strasburg property by the city of Littleton."

As the late Charlton Heston said, from my cold dead hands. Read it all, before they come to your town. And look at Nightmare's comments in "Links" below-- -it now costs $500 a YEAR in Dallas to keep an intact dog.

Update: the North Carolina PETA activists who took dogs from animal shelters, killed them,and dumped them in dumpsters, were convicted only of littering, apparently because their intentions were "benign". They had been charged with 21 felony accounts of animal abuse, but the judge threw most charges out. (Remember, animal hospital officials said they thought an effort would be made to put the animals up for adoption.) Now, even the littering charges have been overturned, because a dumpster is a perfectly good receptacle for rubbish. PETA is crowing and implying it will do it again. Be very afraid.

HT Bob Kane at SAOVA.


PBurns said...

The conduct here by Littleton, Colorado is SO outrageous, that I am a bit suspicious that maybe the whole story is not presented and the facts are actually a little more complex than we know.

A quick search of the internet found this >>

You will note that that Mr. Attleson apparently "violated the terms and conditions of a deferred judgement he agreed to on November 22, 2006."

What that means is that he was warned more than 14 months ago that he had to reduce the number of dogs on his property.

In fact, he was probably told this more than two years ago, as the deferred judgement was the end of a long process that no doubt started many months earlier.

Mr. Attleson had 11 dogs on the property on the morning in question, of which four were young dogs that appear to be OK under the Littleton, Ordinance, but this was very cleary a litter that should never have been started under the circumstances, as kennel reductions had been called for and agreed to by all sides. Even without this litter, Mr. Attleson was 4 adult dogs over compliance. Even with the second property next door, he was out of compliance.

As a general rule, judges do not act on nothing, and apparently a lot of people saw some sort of problem. Hard to know what it was, as I was not there, but the Littleon notice suggests some possibilities, as it mentions sanitation issues ("failure to remove rubbish, outdoor storage that’s not permitted; and International Property Maintenance Code violations concerning plumbing facilities, structure maintenance, and sanitation"). Were these really serious problems? Again, I do not know, but it's pretty clear that Mr. Attleson was on notice that he had to change things, and that community standards of some sort were not being met and he knew it and had been warned for a long time. The judge in this case has been a jurist a long time, and is not some lefty loon (he's from Oklahoma and graduated from law school in 1959).

A bit more research and I found Mr. Attleson's dog defense web site at >>

What is interesting here is that the web site does NOT show the kennel, the house, or the adult dogs. Why not? That would be good PR in my book.


So I dig a litle more and discover that the house at 6519 South Windermere, Littleton, CO is 1,491 sq feet -- very small -- on a 10,000 sq. foot lot (less than a quarter acre). See >> The house next door is even smaller -- 820 sq, feet on a similar sized lot. Aerial shots of the yard show some rubbish, which is not a good thing to be able to see from outer space (I'm just saying).

The bottom line is that it's hard to know what is going on in Littleton, Colorado, but the story that is presented would seem to require a conspiracy between cops, animal control officers, a judge, etc., and a conspiracy that goes back quite a long time. Is that possible? Sure, I suppose, but it's not as likely as there being over-reaching on one side (City officials) combined with bull-headed instransigence on the side of Mr. Attleson.

I would note that the District Attorney in Littleton, Colorado is a Republicann, and this is not a looney-left part of the country.

As to the larger issue of a municipality placing dog ownership limits on residential properties this small, some limits are clearly needed to deal with hoarders, noise and sanitation issues. Is 3 dogs too low a limit? I think so. That said, some people will think a limit of 200 dogs is too few. There is a right to private property, but it is not an unconstrained right. Does this mean Littleton acted correctly? It does NOT. But it does suggest there might be a bit more to this story. Something does not ring right.


Steve Bodio said...

Thanks for digging Patrick-- I admit I got so incensed I did not dig further. Anyone up there know anything?

Also thanks for the line "Aerial shots of the yard show some rubbish, which is not a good thing to be able to see from outer space (I'm just saying)." I'm posting it as "quote of the week"!

Nightmare said...

The ordinance in Dallas is not final yet. It's supposed to become law the end of the month. There is an e-mail campaign against it but I expect it to pass. AC has stated publicly that they will not issue breeder permits to people who live in residential areas. This is because of complaints about too many 'loose dogs.' They planning to hire more AC officers to enforce the leash laws with all those $500 permits they sell? Why are people so stupid?

Anonymous said...

I ordered the Court Records to this story. The photos are disgusting. Both homes are in the process of being condemned. Mr. Attleson was busted in September 2006 with 22 dogs on the property and pled guilty. He was given a chance and a deferred sentence which he then violated on several occasions including breeding another litter while under probation. He just thumbed his nose at the agreement he made with the courts and his neighbors didnt want their property values destroyed by him and the messthey had to live beside.
This is a letter I received from the Deputy City Attorney that came with the Court Records. The truth is nothing like what is being distributed on the internet by the guilty parties......By the way you can find out a whole lot more about this guy by doing a simple google search. Robert W. Attleson.
I am the Deputy City Attorney in the City of Littleton . I am the person who attended to the litigation involving Mr. Attleson. I appreciate the opportunity to reply to your letter.
I agree with you that dogs are a wonderful addition to the lives of people. The action the City of Littleton took in this matter was to protect the health of the dogs from a man who was not doing so.
There was a hearing before a judge that established the dogs’ health was in danger. Mr. Attleson had been under the jurisdiction of the Court for more than a year. Mr. Attleson was ordered and agreed to provide access to the two residences between 7 am and 8 pm. The officers could not locate Mr. Attleson, so a warrant was sought to remove the dogs to a safe environment. A week after the dogs were removed, I was told by Mr. Attleson’s lawyer that Mr. Attleson had moved his personal residence away from the dogs some time before the February inspections and he did not update his address or phone numbers with the Court or the officers that were responsible for inspections. Mr. Attleson made it impossible to locate him so the dogs could have been removed hours before and without forced entry.
During the time I have been aware of Mr. Attleson's circumstances, he has kept up to 22 dogs on the premises. On 2/14/08, he had 11 dogs.
The Court gave Mr. Attleson leeway for months and months, because Mr. Attleson represented to the Judge that he, Mr. Attleson, was rescuing unwanted dogs and dogs in need of medical care. He never told the Judge he was a breeder, keeping the dogs for show and breeding purposes, and running a home business for grooming dogs. Mr. Attleson represented he provided a temporary home for the dogs in order to place them with loving and caring owners. The truth finally came out after the dogs were moved to a healthy environment.
Over the period of more than a year, Mr. Attleson let the conditions in which he kept the dogs deteriorate. In February of this year, the ammonia atmosphere, urine soaked bedding, and general unclean conditions caused immediate physical symptoms in the humans that inspected the premises. The humans were only there for minutes. The dogs were locked in; they could not get out without help. It was determined at a Court hearing that the conditions were such that the residences were unhealthy for humans and animals.
The conditions in the houses were the cause of one of 4 youth dogs to have a bacterial infection that Mr. Attleson left untreated. None of the 4 youth dogs had any shots and all needed to be wormed. The dogs received veterinary care from the Colorado Humane Society at no cost, when the dogs were taken from the homes and placed with the Humane Society until Mr. Attleson could locate the dogs in a healthy environment. The Court required documentation from an expert in animal welfare to approve the location and the conditions. With that accomplished, Mr. Attleson regained custody of the dogs.
It is inconceivable to me that any dog owner, who cared for his dog, would have given a dog to Mr. Attleson to be groomed in that environment, if the owner had actually been in the houses.
There are substantial records that establish Mr. Attleson knew he was acting illegally for years. There are substantial records that establish the deplorable conditions that forced the City of Littleton to take action to protect the animals. If you wish, you may order copies of the public records from the proper department and obtain the truth about Mr. Attleson.
It is my hope that he is an anomaly in the dog care world. If he is the model of a good owner, then the industry needs a serious revamping of government regulations to assure the humane care of dogs.
I know there are breeders and rescue agencies and non-profit organizations created by truly caring people who take good care of dogs. In my opinion, Mr. Attleson was not among that group in February of this year.
You are a person who cares about animal welfare. To you I say, give aid only to non-profit organizations. Not only should one avoid giving to the for-profit individuals and organizations, but also every potential giver would be wise to inspect the facilities before giving.
Now that the dogs are in a safe environment, the City of Littleton is moving forward to have Mr. Attleson repair the residences as needed for healthy human habitation.
Alan C Katz
Deputy City Attorney
City of Littleton

Anonymous said...

From the Public Court Records Littleton Courthouse

Robert Attleson 6529 and 6519 S. Windemere St
~I Show Cause MC20597
NOTE: City has been contacting Mr. Attleson as far back as 1974 (see below)
08-06-99 - Warning Letter
Housing Code and Derelict Vehicles.
04-05-00- Contact with Mr. Attleson Derelict Vehicle
11-14-01 - Complaint of too many animals at property - contacted at 5629 S Windemere St
Refused entry, at least 6 dogs heard barking inside residence.
11-30-01-Warning Letter
Reduce to 3 dogs by 12-12-01.
12-06-01- Copy of letter received from Mr. Attleson
Letter said was a rescue for the last 16 years but was ceasing immediately.
12-06-01- Attleson sent letter to Marian Aspnes
Requested extension to reduce to 3 dogs
12-10-01- Marian Aspnes e-mailed Mr. Attleson.
Clarifying Code violations, including number of pets and time to comply.
12-19-01- Attleson sent letter to Marian Aspnes
Refused to grant access or give a date for requested extension
12-24-01- Final Letter
Reduce to 3 dogs, repair front porch and remove derelict vehicle. 01-07-02 - Site inspection
Refused entrance to confirm number of dogs at 6526 S Windemere St. Violations of derelict vehicle and front porch in disrepair corrected.
07 -09-02- Complaint of 10 to 12 dog~ excess barking and a foul odor coming from property Marian Aspnes and LPD Officer Wendy Kane attempted to contact Mr. Attleson, no
answer at door, barking from at least 5 dogs heard from inside the residence at 6526 S
Windemere St.
05-24-04 - Violation letter sent to Mr. Attleson
Violations: dead tree, fence maintenance, weeds along alley, outdoor storage and derelict vehicle
09-30-04 - Site Inspection
Violations corrected
NOTE: In a letter from Mr. Attleson dated December 6, 2001, to Marian Aspnes he stated:
"My discussions with Ms Fife [Animal Control Officer] about barking dog and odor complaints are 16 years and 12 years old respectively. I recall one filed barking dog complaint about 1974 or '75. The odor complaint was taken to City Court around
, 88, , 89. City presented one witness as to offensive odor, and I present two witnesses to no offensive odors detected. My two witnesses were the Humane Officers at that time. Thus a total of two fornal complaints and one infornal complaint (involving Humane Officers) in the twenty-nine years I have lived on South Windemere."
Robert Attleson 6529 and 6519 S. Windemere St . Show Cause MC20597 09-06-06 - Violation date
10-4-4 (B) Exceeding limit of allowed household pets.
22 dogs - 6529 S Windemere St
09-13-06 - Arraignment date
Attleson called for extension 10-11-06 - Arraignment reset
Attleson called for extension 10-30-06 - Arraignment date
Entered Not Guilty Plea- set for trial 11-14-06 - Trial Date
Entered a Guilty Plea CONVICTED
11-22-06 - Signed Deferred Judgment
30 days to come into compliance with no more that 3 dogs total for the properties at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere St and to provide unannounced access to both properties to ensure compliance.
01-17-07 - Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere St Refused entry and said he was still in violation 01-24-07- Motion to Revoke Deferred Judgment
Continued to 03-08-07 and Judge Kimmel asked for inspection
02-22-07- Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windennere St
15 dogs at 6529 and 2 at 6519 S Windennere St
03-08-07 - Court Review
Judge Kimmel ordered another inspection and ordered him to be in compliance by 07 -19-07 with continuing inspections to reach compliance.
03-12-07- Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere St
12 dogs at 6529 and no dogs at 6519 S Windennere St
03-13-07 - Show Cause Hearing requested Set for 05-17-07
05-03-07 - Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windennere St
12 dogs at 6529 and no dogs at 6519 S Windennere St
05-17 -07 - Show Cause Review
Judge Kimmel said be in compliance by 06-14-07 or 30 days in jail
06-12-07 - Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere St
12 dogs at 6529 and no dogs at 6519 S Windemere St
06-14-07 - Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere St
3 dogs at 6529 S Windemere and no dogs at 6519 S Windemere St
06-14-07 - Show Cause Review
Defendant in compliance and Judge Kimmel ordered review for 07-19-07.
07-18-07 - Site inspection at 6529/ 6519 S Windemere
3 dogs at 6529 S Windemere St and no dogs at 6519 S Windemere St
07 -19-07 - Show Cause Review
Defendant in compliance and reminded he is subject to review for 3 years and must remain in compliance. Court review set for 11-15-07.
01-10-08 - Site inspection
5 dogs at 6529 S Windemere St and 2 dogs and 4 puppies at 6519 S. Windemere St. NOTE: Mr. Attleson was very agitated and uncooperative for the inspection.
02-04-08 - Request to Show Cause and Order to Revoke Deferred Judgment Set for 02-14-08.