Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.
BROOMFIELD, Colo. — A concerned viewer reached out to Contact7 after seeing several dogs kept out in the cold in Broomfield.
It was below freezing outside and Broomfield resident Brian Whetman couldn’t ignore what he had seen from his storage unit nearby. He live-streamed the incident on his Facebook page.
"[The dog] was just screaming. It just seemed like he had been out there well over four hours," he said.
He had trouble tracking down the owner of the outdoor kennel, so Contact7 did.
On a day when the sun was out, Jim with Top Dog Protection Service showed us his kennel.
"People will call me up and yell at me like I’m an evil person, like I’m the cruelest guy in the world because these dogs are out here in the cold," he said.
He's used to the complaints by now. For the past 25 years, he's trained troubled dogs given up by their families or donated to him to work as security. He said he feeds them, gives them water and a warm place to sleep. There's also a roof to block the elements and an exercise pen.
"Without this job, all of these dogs would be euthanized,” he said. “If you took all of these dogs to the pound, there is no way the pound is going to adopt out any of these dogs.”
Jim said he has never been cited for cruelty or neglect and his dogs are healthy and happy.
"This is how I make my living,” he said. “I’m not getting rich doing this. I’m making a modest living, saving these dogs, giving them a purpose.”
But for Whetman, who considers his pets family, it’s just too distressing to see. His dogs are sports dogs, trained to help him retrieve pheasants, ducks and geese after a hunt. He said he outfits them specifically for the cold and inclement weather.
"The fact of the matter is seeing a dog out there for four-plus hours in the bitter cold, to me, to a lot of people I know, and my friends, decent people, it’s just unacceptable," he said.
The spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Agriculture said there have been no complaints against Top Dog Protective Services. One of the issues, is the common confusion with the business Jim leases from on the same plot of land, Colorado Dog Academy.
Animal control officers did visit the day Whetman made the video. But they did not find any signs of neglect.