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


Anonymous said...

I am not in the "Fancy" but am acquainted with a few people who are/were including Bob. As an outsider I can only believe that the negative comments comes from those who are unable to win against Bob's dogs in the show ring. My impression is that, for many, showing dogs means winning at all costs and when unable to win smearing the competitor is part of the game. How sad.

Anonymous said...

There is a 15 year court history with this guy....Contact the Littleton Courts to get the facts and the disgusting photos. He was busted in September 2006 with 22 dogs on the one a 900square foot home, he broke his Septeber 06 agreement with the Courts who tried for a year and half to work with him...what happened in February was a parole violation not a first time offense at all....Why was this guy at a show instead of at home taking care of his dogs and a litter of puppies that were left alone all day until Melissa got home at 6:00 pm (by your own blog testimony). Why was he not taking care of this mess instead? Is dog showing more important that taking care of your responsability? After reviewing the court records and looking at the photos it is no wonder there is so much anti dog legislation. It's because of dog people like this.....
Here is a letter from DDA Alan Katz, and I totally agree with him. What kind of idiot would believe that there were no complaints from the neighbors after looking at the photos. No one would live beside that mess and be ok with it.

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...

anonymous said- My impression is that, for many, showing dogs means winning at all costs .....

Yes that appears to be very true. Showing is much more important than taking care of a mess at home.....Ask Bob.
Hey,I know someone who has those pictures from the court raids. Can we post them on here? I think it would be only fair to represent both sides to get to the Truth about this. Dont you agree?

Anonymous said...
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