DENVER (CBS4)– Dozens of dogs are available for adoption after a woman was charged with 35 counts of cruelty to animals, and 12 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
An arrest affidavit obtained by CBS4 showed Denver Police arrested Marleen Elizabeth Puzak after her friend tipped authorities of the woman’s living conditions in a “feces encrusted” home.
After obtaining a search warrant, Denver police reported Puzak’s home in southwest Denver was surrounded by feces and the odor of urine was notable from the sidewalk.
A responding officer noted his need for special protective gear, upon entering the feces-infested home.
Neighbors told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas they knew Puzak, 58, had several dogs, whom she didn’t clean up after. However, several neighbors said they were unaware of the amount of dogs Puzak owned.
“There was a stench, that would come,” said Joe Lucero, a neighbor.
Lucero and his wife Mary live two homes away from Puzak. They said Puzak was often seen taking several dogs at a time to the park. However, the Luceros were under the impression it was always the same handful of dogs.
When CBS4 told them of the charges Puzak faced, the Luceros were caught off guard.
“How she lived with that, I don’t even know,” Mary Lucero said.
Police reported 35 living dogs were found inside the home, with another 12 deceased dogs found inside freezers.
Most of the surviving dogs were French bulldogs. One was an English bulldog and one was a Boston bulldog.
“Had we known we probably would have called and said, ‘Hey this has to stop.’ That is just unhealthy, not only for the dogs, but for her,” Mary Lucero said.
Dozens of dogs were rescued and taken to the Denver Animal Shelter.
Every dog underwent extensive cleaning and dental work. Many needed surgery to aid their breathing. One dog needed an eye removed.
Several neighbors told CBS4 that Puzak had moved out of her home since the dogs were rescued.
Though work crews were stripping the home of furniture and carpet, CBS4’s Dillon Thomas was still able to smell the urine from the sidewalk.
Neighbors said the smell was evident, long before the dogs were rescued.
While the Lucero’s said they couldn’t use their patio due to the smell, they said their neighbor had it worse.
“We didn’t even step our foot inside. We just looked,” Mary Lucero said. “Because, the smell knocks you off your feet.”
The Denver Animal Shelter hopes to adopt out all the rescued dogs. They range in age from eight months to 10-years-old.
The dogs will be available for adoption at a special event on Saturday. The event will take place at the Denver Animal Shelter from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
However, each person hoping to adopt a dog will have to pass an extensive adoption consultation.
The shelter said French bulldogs are historically known to be an expensive breed to own, due to their known medical issues. One expert said French bulldogs could, on average, bring on more than $15,000 in medical bills during their lifetime.
The shelter will be vetting potential owners, addressing issues from dog friendliness, to financial capabilities.
A spokesperson for the shelter told CBS4 most of the dogs from this rescue could be adopted out for more than $400 each. The price comes from the work done to rehabilitate each dog, alongside their donation to the shelter for its housing services.
Several people have already gone to the shelter, hoping to adopt the dogs. However, they won’t be available until Saturday. The shelter expected a long line of potential suitors for adoption.
As the dogs should soon be adopted, those who lived near the situation said they hoped Puzak would also get the help she needed, while having a second chance at life.
“I cannot be a judge of that person. She loved her dogs,” Joe Lucero said.
“She was a good lady. It just got out of control,” Mary Lucero said.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.