City Government as a Blunt Weapon

What’s up with Littleton, Colorado? Here’s the contents of an email from a person who does — or did — dog rescue when Littleton decided to declare war on multiple pets. Visit Attleson Dog Defense to get contact information for Littleton city officials.

Below is an email from a long time friend of mine who has English Setters and does a bit here and there of handling. Bob has been extremely active in All Setter Rescue for a long time – even before it was consider a problem. A bit of background before you read his email .. about 18 months ago, Bob and Melissa (who he’s lived with forever), purchased the house next door to their’s. More as a tax deduction as their house had been paid off some years before. At some point in time, the City of Littleton changed the number of MAMMALS (to include dogs, cats, gerbils, etc.) on one property and didn’t grandfather Bob in. So with the purchase of the house next door, Littleton just freaked out a bit and then revised the law again stipulating if you owned two properties within the city limits the maximum was to still be THREE. So they started hasseling Bob and he kept on his normal low key way of dealing with it, but knew he had to purchase property away from the metro area. He would have been out earlier, but it is a bit hard to get fencing up in the winters around here. So from here, you can read Bob’s email:

Hi All,

Thought that I better touch base and let you know that I am still out here and, as yet, not in jail (but of course working on it).

As you know, Littleton broke into both of my houses in Littleton on February 15, 2008, after making sure that I was not there, and took one adult dog out of one and three adult dogs and four 9 week puppies out of the other. Bashed the front door in with a battering ram used for drug raids, to get at the one dog, and broke into a back door on the other house and then broke blinds, screens, etc., in order to hand the dogs and puppies out through the window of the second house. All this with four police cars, at least six patrolmen, two animal control trucks (Littleton only has one), animal control officers. As told me by my neighbors, there were zoning and other people, while my neighbors watched in horror as to what was happening.

I need to note again here that there are no known complaints about me and/or my dogs, or number of dogs, from my neighbors. The day before, I finally told the city that I had the place out at Strasburg (actually said that it was 60 miles away as they wanted the complete address) and that all dogs would be moved out there by Monday night February 18th. This appeared to be okay with them and a meeting was set up for 10 am Tuesday, February 19th. with animal control to verify. That was my mistake because I allege that they then went back to City Hall and laid out the plans for the raid the next day. The Court then called an emergency hearing for Friday morning and left a phone message for me to attend, knowing full well I would be at the Denver shows. When I did not show up as directed, I was declared a fugitive and they proceeded with their raid.

They actually staked out my house (according to one neighbor on the corner where they saw their car parked) and waiting until they saw me leave with three dogs to go to the show that day. They had verified the day before that I was going to be at the shows all four days. After I left, they attempted entry, and then went back to the judge for a forcible entry warrant, which they exercised about 4 pm that afternoon. Quite a show and very upsetting for my neighbors who witnessed it.

Melissa came to the house about 6 pm to check on the pups as I was still at the show (going Best Brace in Show with two of my mistreated, neglected and abused 8-1/2 year old English setters; Pig & Joe). I can only imagine her horror finding the houses broken into and the dogs and puppies gone. Freaked her out and she could not reach me because my cell was off at the show. She caught up with me at the show just after I had finished getting my show photos shot.

The paperwork that she found at the houses demanded that I bring to the city the 3 dogs that I had taken to the show. Of course they expected I would do this immediately but instead they went home with me to Strasburg. The paperwork they left also had the judge’s orders that the dogs taken (plus the three at the show) were not to be returned to me, my agents, or anyone that might be suspected of being a straw buyer/adopter for me.

The shelter where they were taken is the same one that was in trouble last fall with the State Attorney General. It cannot and allegedly has not passed minimum state standards (PACFA) for a number of years. It was here that the city felt that the dogs seized would be safer than with me even though the city had canceled their contract with the shelter last fall Almost all other public contracts with this shelter have been canceled. It should be noted here that the animal control officer for Littleton, used to work for Colorado Humane Society, and before that worked 11 years in animal control in San Diego, California.

Try finding a criminal defense attorney (especially a good one) on a Friday night before a three day holiday. Also note that this raid was done late on a Friday afternoon before a 3 day Holiday where no City Offices would be open until Tuesday.

I was fortunate and well taken care of by friends in the rescue side of the dogs, and by 9:30 am Saturday morning I was talking to my lead attorney on the phone. I met with both of my attorneys at the show on Sunday. They prepared the Emergency Motion On Illegal Seizure Of Property that I believe I sent to you last week. They also contacted the shelter where the dogs had gone. By Tuesday morning, all involved city departments and the shelter were put on notice that we were coming. My lead attorney, Susan Martin, came highly recommended by the prosecutors and others in the Denver District Attorney’s office.

We could not tell if an arrest warrant had actually been issued, so I started staying out at the Strasburg house Friday night and each night since. To make this short, we ended up getting a 3 pm emergency court hearing on Friday, February 22 with the city. Our priorities were to get the dogs back; then keep me out of jail; then deal with the charges, etc., and then get mad. When they offered to return the dogs in pre-hearing negotiating, we jumped at it. As a consequence, I had to agree to a number of outrageous terms including; 3 year deferred jail time, up to $3,000 in fines, $1,000 board and care costs on the dogs, 3 years unannounced access to my houses and I cannot be caught with a dog anywhere within the city limits (not even my vet’s office). Also required a professional inspection of my Strasburg place, and that I must plead guilty to all charges brought against me. Hell of a price to pay to get my dogs back, but the only way, as they were holding them ransom so that my motion against them would not see the light of day in their court.

Then for good measure, they added a number of additional charges/violations (mostly bogus) against my properties based on everything from the city codes to the International Property Maintenance Code (?). Most all of these violations are unspecified and are for failure to remove outdoor storage and rubbish, and failure to maintain plumbing, a clean and sanitary structure and maintain interior surfaces. We begin the fight on these tomorrow morning at 10:30 am. They have been inspecting both houses in Littleton since September 6, 2006 and now bring these additional charges. In my opinion, these charges are being brought in reaction to my bringing an attorney to the table, as this has happened before.

I emphasize, that no abuse, neglect, or cruelty charges have ever been brought against me, none at all, in the previous years of ongoing inspections. These claims were used by the city to justify their seizing of my dogs for their own health and safety. However, if they thought that they could prove such charges, I am sure that they would not hesitate in bringing them forward. That should say something for their strength, or lack of strength in their case and arguments against me.

The important thing is that I do have the pups and dogs back and I am not in jail. Pups and dogs are doing good, primarily because they were a good healthy state when seized. The puppies were down considerably in weight and body tone, and dehydrated, but they have responded well since I got them back Friday night. All were over medicated, including shots, if the reports that I was given on them are correct. The adults received DVM care, but the puppies were not seen by a vet. The report is dated February 22nd., the day they were released to my agents. The puppies were kept at Mary Warren’s house in Conifer {SALLY: GOOGLE Mary Warren & Colorado Humane Society} If we can get to next Monday or so without anyone getting sick, we should be okay on the short term as far as catching something from the shelter and captivity.

Over 45 people attended the hearing last Friday in support of me against the city. Someone started passing the hat for financial help, and $865 was collected. All sides of the dog game (showing/breeding, rescue, and welfare) were represented. This was put together in less than 40 hours notice.

Channel 7 news video team showed up and videoed after the hearing in the court lobby and at the location where I met with the recovered pups and dogs. I was not allowed to go to the shelter to claim them; only my attorneys, Melissa and other supporters to help with getting the dogs and transporting them to where they would meet up with me and the press. The bill to have them released was $1,100. My attorney had to call the Englewood police (two cars) to come out and enforce the court order to release the dogs to her. She also has filed assault charges against Mary Warren’s husband, Bob, and other charges against Mary, with the cities of Englewood and Littleton, Arapahoe County, and the state attorney’s office. She was pissed.

Sadly, it’s not over yet, but at least I have the dogs back, and I am not in jail. Littleton has started damage control with a press release, but is still having to answer to complaints from citizens and non-citizens. It has been given to all the major TV stations in Denver but so far has not been aired that I know of. It is coast to coast on the Internet and is getting put into dog related publications’ web sites. A defense fund is being set up to help defray my legal expenses, something that was recommended by those in attendance at the hearing.

My cell phone does not work well out here in the country, and of course I am not around Littleton much anymore except to begin moving from the residences there to here. The best number now to reach me at (after trying my cell) is 303-622-4488, and of course by email.

Sorry about the length of this.



After the dogs were seized 2/15, I made the decision that I had to just go really public about what has been going in Littleton the past 18 plus months. I hoped for some reaction and support, but never expected or fore saw how this has taken off and all of the support offered. To walk in that packed court room on the 22nd really blew me away, and I felt bad that I was having to plea bargain such a bad deal just to get my pups back. Susan (my lead attorney) and I had decided at our first meeting the priorities were, first to get the pups/dogs back or at least safe; second to keep me out of jail; third to rectify/overturn/correct what had been coming down; and fourth, get angry and revenge. We did not really believe that we could get the kids, but thought keeping me out of jail was possible. Appeal to higher court would have to take care of #3, and #4 would have to been in civil court and the arena of public outrage toward Littleton and the Littleton Municipal Court.

Susan & Ruthann put together an excellent 17 page motion and off to races we went. When Katz (the short prosecutor) offered return of the kids, I felt that I had no choice to but bargain to that end, whatever it would cost me. Thus we both won; I got my kids back and Katz could continue to exact his revenge on my head and succeed in his original goal of running me out of town. So I am still Littleton Public Enemy Number Uno, but the pups and adults seized, plus the rest of my beasts are safe in Strasburg (often referred to as “Defoe”) for at least the time being.

Now, without Katz being able to hold my kids for ransom, Susan, Ruthann, Melissa, and I can get mad. It is now my turn, but it is going to costly emotionally and financially. Katz has now moved toward condemning my two houses in Littleton, and, as of yesterday, filed charges against Melissa who now has a court date 3/12 to answer the charges revolving around 6519 {SALLY: for trash on the lawn!} I am due back in court 3/26 I believe.

Enough of the soapbox. Thanks for your help and support. This should be interesting, but it is needed to protect us all. If they can come after me this way, they can go after anyone in dogs.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

9 thoughts on “City Government as a Blunt Weapon

  • 2008/03/06 at 8:19 am

    This is just such an amazing peice of injustice. The city of Littleton is using it’s brunt force againt this man, Bob, for no reason other than that it CAN. I pray the law abiding citizens of Littleton CO will rise up against this injustice, and demand justice for this man.

  • 2008/03/07 at 11:22 am

    I thought we lived in the United States of America and not some country ruled by dictators. This is truly unbelievable to me . I would hope that a higher court will overturn this injustice that has been perpetrated on one of our citizens.

  • 2008/03/18 at 9:19 am

    After what has happened in Berkely, with the misuse of power that city has displayed, Littleton, CO, does not surprise me. It’s a case of one person’s civil rights being less important than another. Whoever, instituted that action, must be someone who is trying to grab power and headlines for themselves.

    Something definitely stinks in Littleton and it isn’t dog feces.

    It is totally alien to me, that in a society where people should be supporting dog rescue and responsible licensed breeders, Littleton should have been applauding Bob’s work, not persecuting him. Talk about neo-fascism using civil and constitutional law persecute a citizen and then trying to hide their illegal actions, is a mis-use of power and violates a few laws in itself.

    While I can’t donate money, I’d like to help. Plus, I think the dog-owners in Littleton should file a class action suit to protect their interests. If the town would do that to one owner, licensed breeder/animal rescue person, what happens to the citizen whose pets happen to have a litter? There’s more to this than meets the eye. Did someone get paid off?

    S/F, Mark
    Animal Rescues since 1981

  • 2008/05/14 at 12:58 pm

    I just found your comments.I can believe in what ur saying.I found out:All the years the court house has been open,only one person could seal their records.I thought the judge were to make the ruling and look over his case?(not Mr.Katz.
    Whats wrong with this justic system.Can u spell corrupt!!!What i hear from people i believe is true.This only proves to me the injustic that gose on in Colorado.How people need to move to not tolorate this.I know for myself at the court room,to say the least.

  • 2008/10/09 at 12:00 am

    A letter I got from the Court Records ordered in February 2008 from Littleton Court Records dept….
    By the way the pictures taken from several different raids over a couple of years on this guy are disgusting. You really should see them for yourself. The photos speak a thousand words.


    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

  • 2008/11/14 at 11:48 am

    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.

  • 2008/11/17 at 12:51 am

    Roy Rogers, are you one of those in the fancy who is in on the smear campaign? I suggest you go to the Attleson Dog Defense blog page for the truth. Katz is notorious for being out to get people. He has no interest in truth and a person is guilty by default. Mr Attleson’s only mistake was in not getting a lawyer involved earlier.

    What would you plead guilty to in order to retrieve what was taken illegally?

    Mr Attleson’s only offense was being over the dog limit. His dogs were always well cared for. (I’ve seen them.)

    He had finally found a suitable property to get his dogs out of the “police state” of Littleton but it was taking a while to get it ready. Why don’t you try putting up fences during the winter!

  • 2008/12/12 at 8:07 pm

    He’s had several good Attorneys. And even with all of the Attorneys he’s had he has been guilty/convicted on the dog charges. Heres the one he had in September 2006 when he was busted with 22 dogs on one small residential property. What happened in February 2008 was he didnt keep his word/agreement to the courts on his first deferred sentence. I guess you havent seen the court records.

    2069 West Littleton Boulevard
    Littleton, C080129
    November 13 2006
    Defendant:Robert Attleson CO COURT

    or Party Without Attorney (Name and Add.-s): Case Number: MC20597
    James D. McKnight, Jr.
    143 Union Blvd, Suite 625
    Lakewood, CO 80228
    Phone Number: (303) 980-8444 Division
    FAX Number: (303) 985-3297 Atty. Reg. #: 14215

  • 2008/12/12 at 9:01 pm

    Common sense. His girlfriend purchased the Strasburg place in August 2007. They had plenty of time to get fences up. But then you need to look at the raid pictures over a 2 year span and see the little homes fences. 6 ft privacy fence laying over on it’s side for YEARS! Clearly seen in pics from the Sept 06 raid and again in the February 08 raid pics. And if you actually read the court log it clearly says fence mainenace in one of the many citations. That fence was over on its side since 2004.

    05-24-04 – Violation letter sent to Mr. Attleson
    Violations: dead tree, fence maintenance, weeds along alley, outdoor storage and derelict vehicle

    8/20/2007 $379000 WD 07000082593 2007 TERRELL TRACY K AND AMY MENGEL MELISSA T $37.9 8/28/2007

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