Dog Turned in to Montrose Animal Control
MONTROSE – The odds of U.S. Army veteran Jeremiah Aguilar getting any sleep in the coming weeks are slim to none, not while his dog Dutch, the animal at the center of a controversial biting incident, remains in isolation at the Montrose Animal Control Center.
Aguilar surrendered Dutch Monday and is preparing an appeal to a Feb. 14 conviction in municipal court, in which he and Dutch were found guilty of the city's vicious animal code. Dutch is accused of attacking his former owner last November, causing injuries that racked up nearly $30,000 in medical expenses.
Dutch remains under a euthanasia order pending the outcome of the appeal. A court hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday in Montrose County Court where a new trial before a three-person jury could be scheduled.
Aguilar was inducted into the Montrose Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 784 Tuesday night as fellow veterans and members of the Ladies Auxiliary said they are standing behind him in his fight to save Dutch.
The case has drawn worldwide attention. The City of Montrose has fielded hundreds of calls and emails calling for a permanent stay of the euthanasia order, and the dog’s release.
"There are a lot of people that seem upset,” said Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn. “I wish they knew more of the facts of the case, and paid attention at the trial to see that the facts aren't quite like they have been made out to be," Alcorn said Tuesday.
In April, an arrest warrant was issued for Aguilar after he failed to appear at a county court hearing. Aguilar said he was advised by his attorney that he didn't need to make the trip from his current home in Oklahoma. Aguilar turned himself in on Memorial Day after the court said he could not seek appellate relief while being a fugitive.
Last weekend Aguilar's wife, Heather, brought Dutch from Oklahoma to Montrose to be turned in. Aguilar has been in Montrose since posting bail and said he only got to spend about a day with Dutch before turning him in at the Montrose Animal Shelter on Monday.
"It just hurts to see him in there and not be able to take him outside," Aguilar said about Dutch's isolation.
Aguilar said Dutch was in a sanctuary in Oklahoma where he was allowed to take Dutch on walks twice a week and was allowed to bring toys and food to the 107-pound American Allaunt canine.
Aguilar, a six-year veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who also helped out on the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina, said he has always maintained a mission or goal.
His new mission, he said, is Operation Save Dutch.
"If my dog was vicious in any way shape or form I would not even own him," he said.
Aguilar maintains Dutch was provoked by the victim and the dog acted in self defense. The city's account claims Dutch attacked the victim following a fight with another dog. The victim, Dutch's former owner and fiance to Aguilar's brother, said she was cleaning blood from Dutch's face when the dog attacked and did so repeatedly for over 10 minutes.
Aguilar said he was saddened the relationship with his brother and fiance has been strained since the attack. He also expects the victim will testify during the trial.
He said he and his attorney, Brandon Luna, are looking to challenge any evidence and "questionable" statements in reports that portray Dutch as a vicious animal.
Aguilar said Dutch received training as a service dog before the attack, and the dog's service to him is "unexplainable," due to the mental trauma he suffers from his time in the military. He said he didn’t like the fact that private medical information about his condition was mentioned in public, but said Dutch gives him therapy, to calm down from the effects of war.
He said Dutch wakes him during nightmares, and the only way he can sleep is to feel him lying by his feet in bed.
"If it wasn't for the people and support I don't think I could have made it this far. I would have been ground into dirt a long time ago. My dog would have been dead and I would have been already checked out," Aguilar said. "That dog has saved my life, and therefore I owe it to him to save his at all costs. I don't care if it costs me everything.”