Thursday, October 23, 2008


A Letter by Bonnie Guzman

To My Fellow Colleagues,

I would like to provide some information and perhaps, some enlightenment, on an ongoing and apparently increasing area of concern regarding the status of English Setter Rescue in Colorado. I am referring specifically and solely to English Setter Rescue, aka All Setter Rescue, as represented by Robert W. Attleson. I am providing this information as a citizen and rescue associate and not on behalf of any organization.

I have been integrally involved in breed specific rescue in the state of Colorado for nearly 20 years. I am a member, in good standing, of the American Fox Terrier Club, the United States Lakeland Terrier Club, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America as well as the United Doberman Club. I’m a past national rescue coordinator for the U.S.L.T.C., the co founder of the nationally based Fox Terrier Network, Inc., the co founder of All Breed Rescue Network, Inc. of Colorado
( and the primary rescue contact for Wire Fox, Smooth Fox, Lakeland and Irish Terriers ( in the state of Colorado. I also assist in Whippet and Saluki rescue. I served as president, as well as a board member at large, for All Breed Rescue Network for a number of years and served as the List Coordinator for the last four years. I have been active (and titled dogs) in conformation, earthdog, and am currently involved in search and rescue, but my primary calling has always been purebred rescue. On a personal level, I have been a Registered Nurse since 1971, working in both staff and upper managerial positions.

Twenty years ago, rescue groups were less organized, underfunded and poorly supported by national breed clubs. As rescue evolved over time, and was more enthusiastically endorsed by AKC parenting clubs, a higher level of expectations and standards followed suit. In the state of Colorado, bona fide rescue groups have specific requirements expected of them including, but not limited to, P.A.C.F.A. licensing, kennel inspections, and recognition/endorsement (required by many shelters) by All Breed Rescue Network. Concurrently, the omnipresent and increasing scrutiny of animal rights groups rests over our shoulders, municipalities are attempting breed specific legislation, and community ordinances are tightening the noose around anything/anyone whom they feel does not fit their idea of “community”. The increased standards have dramatically improved the quality of rescue operations but less than dog friendly legislation is always a heartbeat away.

I have had a collegial relationship with Bob Attleson dating back to approximately 1989. I had been contacted by a shelter in Wyoming regarding an animal cruelty case involving approximately 13 English Setters that the county wished to turn over to rescue. My first meeting with Bob was late that evening after he made the round trip drive to northern Wyoming, returning with all of the setters, a drive that took over 16 hours total. This was the start of a long and reliable relationship that shelters and rescue groups in Colorado have enjoyed with Mr. Attleson. Over these 20 years, I have had numerous occasions to assist or work with Bob on animal related matters. I can not recall a single occasion that he did not make himself available to assist his breed, or other breeds, when needed. There really is no task that was impossible for Bob to do. He enjoys a positive work relationship with all the metro area shelters, non profit animal hospitals as well as all his colleagues. The All Breed Rescue Network hotline fields many hundreds of phone calls per year. There has never been a complaint called in regarding English Setter Rescue.

I have had the occasion to be at Bob’s residence two times in the last 20 years. The first time was many years ago and to be fair, I do not have many specific recollections, aside from the fact that his dogs were in impeccable condition. I did have a few occasions, over the years, when I went to Bob’s workplace, where he oftentimes had a number of English there to greet me. Again, every dog - whether rescue or his personal dogs - were in impeccable condition. I would jokingly remark that I could never tell the difference between the show dogs and the rescues.
About a year and a half ago, there were anonymously offered, allegations, of a serious nature, brought against Bob. There were rumors that his dogs were in poor condition, kept in crates, matted and filthy, and being denied medical care. At that time, I was the rescue list coordinator for ABRN. A year or two previously, I had started to do home visits on people listed on our web site. The plan was to, eventually, have all constituents visited. These visits were pre planned and informal, the main objective being to observe the condition of any animals kept on the premises, to determine adequate shelter, food storage and water, and to inspect records of housed animals, as necessary. On May 18, 2007, I happened to be in the general vicinity of Bob’s house and had a bit of extra time on my hands. I was aware that there were concerns about the welfare of his animals so I spontaneously contacted him, asking if he would mind if I dropped by to do a home visit, essentially unannounced. He was very receptive and invited me over. I was five minutes away. I spent the next hour or so visiting with Bob, receiving a total and complete walk through of both his houses (they are side by side) and of his entire enclosed yards. There were no restrictions on what I could look at or where I could go. I was able to look at, thoroughly, each and every dog present at his home. Once again, each and every dog was not only clean, healthy appearing and outgoing, they were, in what I could consider, impeccable condition. I had some difficulty differentiating the rescue dogs from the show dogs. All dogs were friendly, interacted playfully and greeted me enthusiastically. There were a few crates on the premises but all dogs were loose and intermingling, just as they were on the occasions when I had visited Bob at his office. The yard was nearly as impeccable as the dogs. For those of you who show dogs, you know that you simply can not keep a dog in a show coat if they are in “feces and urine saturated” crates or running in feces infested yards.

On February 24, 2008, Martha Smith, the current president of All Breed Rescue Network, and myself made a follow up visit to Bob’s current home. Once again, we were able to look at the entire premises, no area of the home was denied from visibility, and we had the opportunity to visualize and examine any dog there. Again, all dogs were in impeccable condition, clearly well cared for. No dogs were in crates. There was one very elderly dog isolated in a separate room for the dog’s safety.

In this litigious society we live in, and under the constant scrutiny of so many people who wish to take OUR rights away as dog owners, hobby breeders, rescuers, exhibitors, it is very dismaying to me that there seems to be a pattern of unrelenting scrutiny and attempts to destroy somebody who has, clearly, spent many years doing the very opposite of what somebody is accusing him of.

We all have different standards of living, different levels of income, different ways of going about our daily lives, different views on how to best care for our pets, ourselves, our homes. Surely, there is enough latitude in this great country, and specifically in the English Setter community, to afford ALL of us the respect and the dignity to find our own way in determining what is best for our animals, without letting animosity, jealousy, spitefulness and pettiness dictate what we do. Step outside the silo you live in and think about what is happening in your dog community. We won’t need the animal rights folks to peck away at our liberties. They can stand aside and simply watch us destroy ourselves.

I would be happy to address any inquiries, questions or concerns you may have about this matter. I am available by email or by phone.

Bonnie Guzman
Denver, Colorado


A Comment Left ...

Recently there has been a comment left on one of the older posts "April 26, 2008," that implies that we have led our readers "OVER THE CLIFF". The comment was left on September 6th 2008, seven months after the original post went up on the Blog. Once again, this is the continuous effort of a few in the 'fancy' to harass and smear the founder, Bob Attleson, and the tireless and committed work of All Setter Rescue. What credence can be given to an anonymous poster; one that is unwilling to stand by their comments and sign their name?

The TRUTH has never been twisted here on the Blog or on the Atteson Defense Website. The untruths and twisting is being done by those leaving negative comments. Those that know Bob and have seen his dogs, his own and the rescues, know the truth and that's what is important!

There will come a day of reckoning!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Article by Linda D. Witouski

Crosspost far and wide ...

The Truth be Known
Linda D. Witouski
September, 2008

Recently, I was confronted with a comment regarding the distribution of information regarding legislation to the dog loving populace that actually set my hair on fire. I'm sure it was intended to be quite innocent, however, with all of the information flowing across the internet highway, I found the comment to be most degrading to those that have been working in the trenches with legislation issues across the country, protecting those that won't protect themselves and felt it was a worthy comment to respond to. The simple comment that had me talking to myself for several hours was "The animal rights activists seem to be the only people out there with the resources to inform the public. Somebody needs to let the public know what's really going to happen to mans best friend!" So, for all of you out there that have this same thought in your mind, this is for you.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are many of us, but not near enough, that have been preaching, writing articles, educating and literally begging for people to see what is going on around them, since the early 80's ! The onslaught of information has been escalating over the years and only recently, has anyone decided to actually pay attention. Kennel Clubs across the country have and continue to use the media and the internet to disseminate information - organizations hold seminars regarding the issues confronting the dog loving populace - the AKC sends out alerts, but not near as often as other groups that work in the legislation trenches. Those alerts are non stop, daily and up todate. The internet is agog with information. There has never been a withholding of information or warnings - ever. It isn't the lack of information from our side - it's the apathy of the people who refuse to believe that the possibility of the demise of dog showing, breeding, and ownership could possibly exist. It's those people that, when legislation is mentioned, respond with, "I don't get involved in that." or "I don't have time for that and it will never pass anyway." Those people that say, "I'm sure somebody else is taking care of it." "That could never happen here," are only kidding themselves and in all actuality, are assisting in endangering their passion and sport as a whole. The worst response being, "I don't believe any of that stuff" clearly indicates that people are not taking advantage of the information available to them and these people who simply refuse to believe or get involved, are a large part of the problem. It's ironic that those very same people who don't have time - seem to have time to be on the computer in some chat group, discussing where the majors could be, or how many dogs they finished so far this year, or how many champion get their dogs have produced, and even go so far as talking about some other breeder in their breed, (especially if it's some rumor) but, they don't have time to take an interest in something that will eliminate all of the discussions on those chat groups? All of that - "stuff" - won't matter if everybody doesn't take the time to get involved in the movement to save their passion and sport - to save their right of choice - to save their dogs.

Laying the cards out on the table and holding nothing back.

It's the inability of the dog people to work with others who share the same feelings, whether they are a hobby breeder or a hi volume breeder. It's the attitude and elitism that keeps those who share the concern to "save our rights" from working together on issues that could save our dogs, rights and our sport. It's the refusal to set aside issues of husbandry, breeding practices and selfishness that will cause the demise of the very sport that people are so passionate about. It's the constant use of animal rights phrases and descriptions such as "puppy miller" & "back yard breeder", names that were coined by the animal rightists to use against us, yet our own people use those same animal rights names for those who are their fellow breeders ! The animal rights crowd loves the fact that the dog owning, showing, breeding fancy can't seem to live in peace and harmony - it's one of their greatest weapons, created for just the purpose it seems to serve. How many times have we seen a fellow dog owner become engaged in problems, whether it is too many dogs or too many litters and need assistance (for a variety of reasons such as age, health, loss of job, confiscations, et al) yet, people, and people in the very same breed, don't bother to help - in fact, they sit and talk about it and refer to those people using animal rights terms and have even created their own AR term of "showmillers". We're supposed to help each other, not assist in running our fellow dog owners and breeders down. You may not agree with something they do or the way they do it, but they are still our fellow breeders and if they need help, in order to preserve our OWN integrity and rights, we should help as much as we can (and keep quiet about it) - but people don't. The issue (and story) becomes compounded, (to the delight of the rightists) by spreading it further. They'd rather agree with those that are fully intending to get to your dogs at a later date, rather than help the poor soul whose dogs need help. We may not agree with their practices, but that is something to be considered later, once we have managed to solidify our position to continue to do what we do. All else will cease to exist if we don't start working together and put aside feelings.

People that know me, know I have been passionate about the subject for more years than they care to remember. and in those years, I have learned that there are those that simply choose to remain uninformed. It's not because the information is not available to them - they just don't care to become involved and don't believe it could happen to them or it "won't affect them". Others are concerned but don't know what to do or perhaps they really don't understand the severity of the problems, yet when offers are made to help educate people and assist them with truly understanding, nobody seems to want to participate. It is impossible to force people to be involved for they do have a right to make a choice...for now.

Relax - Somebody will tell you what to do.

It's unfortunate that the choice may come down to having animals....or not. Without the concern & assistance from the dog owning, dog loving, rights loving, freedom of choice loving, competitive people, (and I do mean each and every one) - rest assured, somebody will soon be relieving the burden of your inactivity in legislation issues for they will be telling you how many dogs you can have, if any, what kind, where to get them, how many times you can breed a dog, if at all, what vet to use, how many permits you will need to own/breed a dog, at what age your dog has to be spayed/neutered, the type of living arrangements required, what kind of records you must have and who gets copies of them - the list will go on, making it impossible - monetarily, mentally and physically impossible - to consider owning any animal. How will you feel when somebody knocks at your door and tells you that you must "get rid" of all but 3 dogs - which ones will you choose to keep and how will you feel watching the others loaded into a truck dispatched for some shelter? How will you react to five or six people going through your home, inspecting every corner and crack, because somebody called in a complaint about your dogs? How much can you afford for citations, lawyers fees, shelter costs and how will you ever recuperate from the heartache? Forewarned is forearmed - sooner or later, somebody will be making your choices for you and when that happens, there is nobody to blame but yourself. The information and people to help you become involved are out there!

Supporting Legislation and AKC.

I just returned from the AKC Delegate meeting and it's dismal. At this time last year, registrations were 1.5 million and currently, for this year, they are 750,000 and continuing on a downward spiral. The AKC has acknowledged that the future is becoming dim and the possibility of them remaining the reigning registry of the world may soon be history. Though that may not mean much to some of you, it should. If the AKC continues to lose ground, they will also lose face in other areas, including having "clout" regarding legislation. The word of AKC and AKC breeders will mean nothing to legislators or the general public and AKC pups will be worthless, right along with AKC dog shows, titles and awards. Although some profess that they don't want to be "thrown in the pile with those other breeders", it's ironic that because of apathy, you will become just what you dislike. The end of the sport, and your passion for same, will be visible on the horizon. The choice will have been made for you.

Dog people tend to be their own worst enemy and sadly, doing a good job of it. You still have the freedom to choose to make a difference. I, and all the others that have been working to protect all dog owners in this country, hope you'll make the right decision.

The cards are on the table. Bet, Call, Raise or Fold - the choice is yours.

Linda D. Witouski
AKC Judge & Delegate
AKC SC Legislation Representative
Legislation Chair, BOD & Delegate - Myrtle Beach Kennel Club, Inc.
Legislation Chair - Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Inc.
Legislation Chair - Yankee Miniature Pinscher Club, Inc.
SC Camo Coalition Steering Committee
SC Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses
Legislation Editor & Investigative Reporter - National Pet Press/The Dog Press
Co-Author - Monthly National Legislation Report
Owner: SC Animal, Sportsmen & Wildlife Voting Coalition