A well-known woman in the French bulldog rescue community in Colorado is now under criminal investigation for, according to Denver Police, keeping dozens of dogs in a southwest Denver home so filthy it required a police officer to “don personal protective gear before” conducting a search of the property.
The Denver District Attorney has charged Marleen Puzak, 58, with 12 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals as well as 35 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.
In all, Denver officers recovered 35 dogs from Puzak’s home – twenty four were French bulldogs, one was an English bulldog and three were Boston terriers.
Twenty four of the French bulldogs will be available for adoption from the Denver Animal Shelter starting Saturday at a special event.
Last month, Denver Police officers responded to Puzak’s home on South Irving Street after someone called 311 asking the city to “check on 15 dogs that she believed were kept at this location in poor conditions,” according to court documents.
Upon arrival, an officer “noticed the odor of dog urine and feces from a distance of eight feet from the house.”
Inside, officers reported finding “extremely unsanitary conditions” as well as the cadavers of 12 dogs inside two freezers.
In a twist to the story, a woman from Illinois claims to co-own one of the living French bulldogs and has asked the Denver Animal Shelter to return the dog known as “Champagne” to her.
Michelle Tippets told 9Wants to Know she allowed Puzak to show one of her French bulldogs in dog shows and now can’t get the shelter to give her dog back. She said she had no idea that her dog might have been living in filthy conditions.
“I trusted (Marleen),” Tippets said.
Denver Environmental Health provided the following information to 9NEWS:
Ms. Tippets was informed by the City and County of Denver’s Animal Shelter that a woman who claimed ownership of thirty-five animals relinquished them to the Denver Animal Shelter. The woman informed the City that a dog named Champagne was among those animals relinquished and that she had owned Champagne for more than a year. When Ms. Tippets contacted the City, she was asked to provide documentation of ownership of Champagne. To date, she has provided no written proof of ownership to the City. The City inquired as to whether Ms. Tippets had the dog micro-chipped and she stated that it was not. Ms. Tippets was further informed that the City intends to adopt out the dog following the same process that it uses for any other animal that is up for adoption.
The woman who owned the 35 animals seized from the property did sign a document relinquishing ownership of the animals, according to Denver Environmental Health.
The Denver Animal Shelter will hold a special adoption event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many of the bulldogs will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The dogs will only be adopted to Colorado residents, and no pre-adoption visits will be available.
The requested adoption cost for the event will be $400. This includes the usual fee and special care including:
- Soft palate resection and nares resection to allow them to breathe more easily
- Dental procedures to remove rotten and painful teeth
- Giardia and deworming treatments
- Medicine for severe ear and skin infections
- Surgery to relieve infected eyes
- Bite wound treatment
The shelter is located at 1241 W. Bayaud Ave. in Denver. They are available by phone at 720-913-1311 or online at www.denveranimalshelter.org.
9NEWS is covering this story today and will have updates in our afternoon shows.