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Robbins v. City of Greeley

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 5, 2016

LINDA ROBBINS aka Lynn Robbins, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF GREELEY, COLORADO, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CONSTITUTIONALITY

Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge

On August 14, 2012, police officers of the City of Greeley, Colorado, took 15 Alpha Lhasa Apso dogs from a van driven by Linda Robbins and put them in the Weld County Humane Society Shelter. She never saw then again because she could not pay $11, 250 by 12:30 p.m. on August 17, 2012. This was the result of the application of the Greeley Municipal Code relating to the humane treatment of animals.

Ms. Robbins seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that she lost her property interest in the dogs without being given the protection of due process of law as required by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United State Constitution.
The Greeley Municipal Code includes the following relevant provisions:
§ 7.08.010 Failure to Provide Treatment in a Humane Manner Unlawful.
It is unlawful for any person to fail to provide an animal owned or in the custody of such person with treatment in a humane manner.
§ 7.08.050 Confining in a Vehicle Unlawful; impoundment.
It is unlawful to confine any animal within a parked, closed vehicle, without allowing cross-ventilation to prevent the animal from suffering heat exhaustion, heat stroke or death; and under no circumstances shall a person confine such animal in any parked, closed vehicle on any public street or way for more than thirty (30) minutes. Any animal control officer or any police officer observing any animal kept in violation of this Section may enter the vehicle, leaving written notice in the vehicle and shall impound such animal to protect its well-being.
§ 7.15.010 Animals subject to impoundment.
Any animal which constitutes a public nuisance as defined in Chapter 7.12, which has or is suspected of having rabies or which is found killed or injured on or along public streets or is otherwise in violation of this Title may be taken into custody by the animal control officer or any police officer and shall be humanely impounded in the animal shelter.
§ 7.15.110 - Administrative impoundment hearings.
(a) The owner of an animal impounded pursuant to this Title is entitled to an impoundment hearing regarding the impoundment, if such person requests a hearing within seventy-two (72) hours of the notice of impoundment. The request for an administrative impoundment hearing must be personally delivered to the Police Department.
(b) The administrative impoundment hearing shall be conducted by the City Manager or his or her designee (hereinafter referred to as the "hearing officer") within ten (10) calendar days of the request. The City Manager shall notify the owner of the date, time and location of the hearing.
(c) At the hearing, the hearing officer shall determine whether there is probable cause to conclude that the animal is subject to impoundment under this Title. If the hearing officer finds probable cause, the officer shall assess the costs of impoundment against the owner. The owner may post a bond as set forth below to prevent disposition of the animal. Should the owner fail to post a bond, the animal may be disposed of or adopted at the discretion of the humane society or other facility where the animal has been impounded without further notice.
(d) If the hearing officer finds no probable cause, the officer shall order the immediate release of the animal. The owner shall not be liable for any boarding or impoundment fee.
(e) Failure of any person to request an impoundment hearing or to attend such hearing constitutes a waiver of the right to such hearing and constitutes a relinquishment of the owner's property rights to said animal, and the animal may be humanely disposed of or adopted at the discretion of the humane society ...

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