United States District Court, D. Colorado
DAWN ROSE, MICHELLE TIPPET, PATTI SEARS, KATHY CLAYTON, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF DENVER, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
S. KRIEGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MATTER comes before the Court on the Plaintiffs'
ex parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
(# 5). For the following reasons, the motion
is granted in part.
the statements submitted by affidavit with the motion as
true, it appears that the Plaintiffs are owners of French
Bulldogs - Raven, Vinnie, Soufflé, Bechamel,
Champagne, Wyatt, Biscuit, Bernaise, Pearl, and Nougat
(collectively the Dogs) - that are registered with the
American Kennel Club. They each gave Marleen Puzak physical
possession of the Dogs and authorizing her to board them,
care for them, and show them in dog shows. On July 7, 2017,
defendant City and County of Denver (the City) raided Ms.
Puzak's home and seized the Dogs for reasons unclear at
this stage. The Plaintiffs have made attempts to retrieve
their dogs from City custody, but with one exception, their
requests have been refused.
recently, the Plaintiffs have been working with the City
through counsel to establish ownership of the Dogs and get
them returned. On September 13, however, Assistant City
Attorney Lee Zarzecki apprised counsel for the Plaintiffs
that the Dogs could be adopted out to new owners, regardless
of ownership, effective immediately.
on these allegations, the Plaintiffs' Complaint
(# 1) asserts four causes of action: (1)
deprivation of property in violation of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments via 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) extreme
and outrageous conduct causing emotional distress; and (3)
willful and wanton conduct. The Plaintiffs' ex
parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (#
5). They request that the Court: (1) enjoin the City
from adopting or transferring the Dogs without Court approval
and (2) enjoin the City from performing further veterinary
procedures on the Dogs without Court approval.
the exception of Champagne and Bearnaise,  the Plaintiffs
have adequately demonstrated ownership of the Dogs and that
the City's offering of the Dogs for adoption poses an
imminent and irreparable harm to their property interest.
Without determining the question, the Court assumes that dogs
sold in good faith to new owners would be unrecoverable by
the Plaintiffs. See Robbins v. City of Greeley, No.
15-CV-0683, Doc. 35, slip op. at 1 (D. Colo. Mar. 9, 2016).
At the very least, the practical hurdles of reclaiming a dog
that has been adopted out to a new owner would be especially
onerous. This harm is imminent for the Plaintiffs because the
City's representation that the Dogs can be adopted out is
not qualified by any protection for the Plaintiffs'
alleged property rights. Under these circumstances, the Court
is satisfied that the Plaintiffs have met the requirements of
Rule 65(b)(1)(A) and (B).
Court also finds that the Plaintiffs have made a facial
showing of their entitlement to ex parte relief
under the traditional preliminary injunction factors. The
City's counsel has advised the Plaintiffs' counsel
that litigation is required, so practically speaking, the
City has received notice of the Plaintiffs' request. The
City's code requires release of any impounded animal to
the owner upon submission of proof of ownership, suggesting a
likelihood of success on their claim for injunctive relief.
Assuming their allegations to be true, the balance of the
equities tips in favor of the Plaintiffs because they have
strong ownership rights in the Dogs and the City has little
right to infringe on that ownership. Any harm to the public
interest caused by enjoining the City from releasing the Dogs
for adoption is outweighed by the public's interest in
robust property rights.
the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order is GRANTED
IN PART as follows:
1. Pending a preliminary injunction hearing, the City, its
agents, and all those acting in concert with it, are hereby
enjoined from putting the following dogs up for adoption for
a period of 10 days from the date of this order: Vinnie,
Soufflé, Bechamel, Pearl, Wyatt/Premiers Law Man,
Biscuit, and Nougat/Nugget;
2. The Court will conduct a non-evidentiary hearing on the
Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 2:00 PM on Friday,
September 29, 2017. At this hearing, the Court will hear the
preliminary injunction motion by proffer and determine
whether a full evidentiary hearing on that motion needs to be
 Raven, Vinnie, Soufflé,
Bechamel, and Pearl all belong to plaintiff Dawn Rose. Wyatt
(also called Premiers Law Man) belongs to plaintiff Patti
Sears. Biscuit and Nougat (also called Nugget) belong to
plaintiff Kathy Clayton. Champagne ...