MONTROSE – Attorneys representing the City of Montrose are seeking the dismissal of an appeal by Jeremiah Aguilar, owner of the 107-pound American Allaunt canine named Dutch sentenced to death after attacking a woman last year.
After Aguilar failed to appear last Thursday for a contempt of court hearing, a bench warrant was issued by Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown. The warrant is not valid outside of Montrose.
In February, Brown ordered Aguilar to surrender Dutch to animal control officers, stating he was "not willing to take the risk" for Dutch to live to bite again. When Aguilar failed to hand the animal over, a contempt charge was filed.
According to Aguilar's attorney Amy Ondos, her client was aware of the Thursday hearing.
Aguilar, a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army is appealing both his Montrose Municipal Court conviction and the euthanasia order. That appeal is scheduled for a three-person jury trial May 16-17,although Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said this week a continuance is expected from Aguilar's new representation at the Lancaster Law Firm, in Benton, Ark.
"With the failure to appear, we are looking for a dismissal," Alcorn said, adding that the deadline for pre-trial motions has passed.
The victim in the Nov. 14, 2012 attack was treated for "deep bite wounds "to her buttock, thigh and hand," according to a press release from the city issued after the attack. The bites severed an artery, and caused a compound fracture to her middle finger of her right hand. The victim has accrued over $28,000 in medical expenses since the attack.
The city is represented by retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Wyatt Angelo.
The May trial will have a three-person jury, with one alternate.
Aguilar told Brown he suffers flashbacks, extreme fear and anxiety and loss of security from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and said Dutch helps him cope with his condition. Due to his condition, he said, he must sleep in a completely dark room at night; when nightmares occur and he wakes up disoriented, and Dutch is trained to flip on the light switch to help claim him down.
"He brings me back to reality," he said. Of Dutch, Aguilar said, "Give him a chance for rehabilitation."
Aguilar maintains that Dutch is a service dog, a contention that has drawn hundreds of thousands of comments on social media worldwide.
Tuesday a petition to the City of Montrose, www.thepetitionsite.com/590/736/158/save-dutch-the-service-dog/, had nearly 280,000 signatures – 20,000 below the goal of 300,000, and a Save Dutch Facebook page (with a link to donate to Aguilar's legal fund) had 23,000 “likes.” The fundraising deadline – for a $10,000 goal – is Saturday, April 26.
As of Tuesday nearly 400 donors had raised almost $9,000 for Dutch's defense.