‘If This Was a Child, We Would Be Dealing With Death,’ He Declares
MONTROSE – Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown, saying he was "not willing to take the risk" of letting Dutch, the 107-pound American Allaunt canine accused of severely biting a Montrose woman multiple times last year, live to bite again, upheld a court order that the dog be euthanized.
In a sentencing hearing Thursday morning, the attorney for Dutch’s owner, disabled U.S. Army veteran Jeremiah Aguilar, told the judge the court could expect an official appeal within days.
Brown ordered Dutch to be transferred to the custody of the City of Montrose's Animal Control Officers, in whose custody he will remain until Aguilar's appeal is ruled upon.
According to city reports and testimony regarding the biting incident, which took place on Nov. 14 of last year, Montrose Animal Control officers were notified by Montrose Memorial Hospital staff that the fiancée of Jeremiah Aguilar's brother was being treated for "deep bite wounds "to her buttock, thigh and hand,” bites that severed an artery and caused a compound fracture to her middle finger.
The victim was caring for Dutch while Aguilar was out of town.
At a Jan. 17 hearing, the victim testified that she responded to a fight between Dutch and a pit bull in her backyard, and used a "lightweight tiki torch pole" to strike Dutch in an attempt to break up the fight.
She then took Dutch inside, and was cleaning blood from the dog's face when he attacked her.
"I saw myself dead on the floor," the victim, who was emotional and still wearing a hand brace as a result of the incident, told Judge Brown at Thursday’s hearing.
Pictures provided by the city showed the deep puncture wounds and lacerations sustained by the victim, as well as pictures of damaged furniture.
But the victim said that the physical wounds were nothing, compared to the deep emotional trauma she suffered.
“Leaving my home has been difficult for me,” she said. “Through therapy, I will overcome that.”
Brown said the victim has become a “moving target” on the internet, the victim of what he described as a “lynch-mob mentality,” with posts calling for her to be “beaten and thrown in jail.”
Aguilar, who at times broke down in tears, 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.
"He brings me back to reality," he said. "Give him [Dutch] a chance for rehabilitation."
Aguilar said that Dutch had never shown any aggression in the past.
But the judge remained unswayed.
"If this was a child, we would be dealing with death," Judge Brown said, referring to the severity of the victim's wounds.
Brown said the victim’s medical bills are around $28,000, adding that sentencing a dog to death comes "once in a blue moon" in his courtroom.
Brown also noted the sensitivity of the relationship between Aguilar and the victim, and their mutual investment in Dutch (the victim raised Dutch for the first few years of his life before became the dog’s owner).
The hearing was sparsely attended, and heavily guarded by local police because the story has received widespread media attention.
The Save Dutch Facebook page has drawn over 24,000 “likes,” and as of Thursday afternoon, posts calling to “flood” Judge Brown phone with calls were gaining traction.
“Unfortunately, we must report that things did not go well today in the courtroom,” the Facebook post now reads. “Jeremy and Heather have been given about two hours to turn Dutch over for euthanasia. To make things worse, sources say the judge claimed Jeremy did not show enough remorse for the woman who was bitten, and sentenced him to 20 days in jail. We have been instructed to take this page down and will do so within a few hours. We want to take this last opportunity to thank everyone for their amazing support though. Please keep Dutch and his family in your thoughts today.”
Aguilar must also pay a $500 fine, $1,000 in restitution and serve two days of jail time.
After the meeting Aguilar was advised by his attorney not to talk with the media.
For the complete story, check out the upcoming Feb. 21, edition of The Watch.