The Fate of a Montrose Dog, Sentenced to Be Put Down, Goes Viral
by William Woody
Feb 21, 2013 | 1677 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COURT HEARING  – The victim in the Nov. 14 attack cried as Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown detailed the serious injuries she sustained in the attack from Dutch. Her expenses are now approximately $28,000, for medical treatment in the aftermath the attack. The judge ruled that Dutch should be euthanized. (Photos by William Woody)
COURT HEARING  – The victim in the Nov. 14 attack cried as Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown detailed the serious injuries she sustained in the attack from Dutch. Her expenses are now approximately $28,000, for medical treatment in the aftermath the attack. The judge ruled that Dutch should be euthanized. (Photos by William Woody)
slideshow

‘Dutch Is Not What They Say He Is’

MONTROSE – Pleas to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper for a pardon, a petition to the White House for intervention and a reinvigorated social media response were just some of the efforts launched on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the hours following Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown's order that Dutch, a dog accused of biting a Montrose woman last year, be put to death.   

Brown, after stating that he was “not willing to take the risk” that Dutch might bite again, ordered the 107-pound American Allaunt canine owned by disabled U.S. Army Veteran Jeremiah Aguilar to be transferred to the city's Animal Control Officers pending an appeal. 

As of press time Wednesday, according to the city, Dutch had not been surrendered. City spokesman Spear said Wednesday morning that the city has the option to file a contempt of court complaint with the court where a show-case hearing would take place. Spear said the city has not filed such a motion.

During a sparsely attended, heavily guarded sentencing hearing on Valentine’s Day, the dog-bite victim, a young Montrose woman who wore a black brace on her right hand, told Brown she remains traumatized from the attack and is terrified that she has become the target of repeated threats on the Internet.

According to city reports and testimony, Montrose Animal Control officers were notified by Montrose Memorial Hospital staff on Nov. 14 of last year that the fiancé 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 the middle finger of her right hand.

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, using 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.

"She began to clean blood from the dog's face. The dog then bit the victim's thigh, puncturing her thigh to the bone. She pried his jaws off of her thigh and attempted to run to safety in her bedroom. She tripped and fell before reaching the room. Dutch jumped on top of her and inflicted another deep bite wound to her buttock. While again attempting to free herself, she suffered a bite to her hand, severing an artery and causing a compound fracture to her middle finger," the city said in a news release describing testimony.

Dutch and Aguilar were found guilty on Jan. 17 of violating the city's vicious animals ordinance (City of Montrose Municipal Code, Section 6-2-9(A)).

Pictures provided by the city showed the deep puncture wounds and lacerations sustained by the victim, and damaged furniture.

"I couldn't move. He had all his weight on me. I saw myself dead on the floor," the victim told Brown at the Feb. 14 hearing. 

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 disputed animal control officers' claims that Dutch is a vicious dog, or that he remains a danger to society.

"He's not what they say he is," Aguilar told Brown.

Aguilar has maintained that Dutch was provoked and he attacked the victim in defense after being hit and struck multiple times by the victim.

James Kohout of Canine Manners was called by Aguilar's attorney Amy Ondos to describe a series of aggression tests recently performed on Dutch, days before the sentencing hearing. 

Kohout said in one test he acted as if he was attacking Dutch, but the dog's response was one of playfulness, not anger, he said. In a separate test on the same day, Dutch was filmed taking a treat from the mouth of a Grand Junction reporter, according to Kohout.

"This dog is not vicious," he told Brown. 

Aguilar told Brown Dutch helps him cope with nightmares. He said due to his condition he has to sleep in a completely dark room at night, and when nightmares occur and he wakes up disoriented, Dutch is trained to flip on the light switch to help calm him down.

"He brings me back to reality," he said. "Give him [Dutch] a chance for rehabilitation."

Aguilar said Dutch had never shown any aggression in the past, and told Brown he was hospitalized in the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs facility on Wednesday because he was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety with the thought of his dog being put down.

"It would be like losing a family member," he said breaking down.

Brown remained unswayed, citing the victim's previous testimony, and ruling to uphold his previous guilty verdict. Brown then took time to thank Aguilar for his past military service.

 

"I want to thank you for your service," Brown told Aguilar before holding up a hat with a phrase thanking veterans for their service.

"If this was a child, we would be dealing with death," Brown said before handing down a $500 dollar fine, with $250 suspended, $1,000 in restitution and 20 days in jail with 18 suspended.

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).

"It's hard that I almost lost my life and then to be treated this way," the victim told Brown. "I just want this to be over."

Reminding the court of the severity of the victim's wounds, Brown criticized Aguilar for "the utter lack of remorse you have for the victim."

Aguilar shook his head in disagreement. 

Brown said the victim's medical bills have totaled over $28,000 since the attack.

Brown said the insults and threats posed to the victim  are unwarranted, stating, "What seems to have come across is that the victim savagely and mercilessly beat the dog for no reason at all."

"It's hard that I almost lost my life and then to be treated this way," the victim told Brown. "I just want this to be over."

In a time where pictures and information can be uploaded and shared instantaneously a passionate public interest has drawn a global audience to Dutch.

Hours following Thursday's ruling, the Save Dutch Facebook page, with over 25,000 likes, was taken down. In its place sprang up three new Facebook pages with calls for intervention, including a call for Gov. Hickenlooper to pardon Dutch. According to a spokesperson, the governor's office has received a hand full of emails and fielded many calls but said, "these types of issues are generally best handled at the local level."

A petition, created through the White House's website, had over 2,000 signatures from across the country. The petition needs 100,000 signatures by March 16 to be submitted to the administration, according to the site. 

Many posts online describe Dutch as a service dog, and on Twitter, handles #SaveDutch or #Servicedog were used to continue the outpouring.

"The justice system has failed. If you have any love in your heart, please sign this appeal petition," one Twitter post read. "Disabled vet trying to save his service dog from death penalty for biting woman who beat him," another read.

"Leaving my home has been difficult for me," the victim told Brown in court last Thursday, "Through therapy, I will overcome that."

Brown said the victim has become a "moving target” online, falling prey to what he described as a "lynch-mob mentality," with posts calling for her to be "beaten and thrown in jail."

But according to Brown, Dutch was not a service dog at the time of the attack, and in court testimony, it was revealed Dutch only began a limited amount of training after the incident. 

"He was never a service dog," Brown said. "Dutch was the aggressor."

On a separate petition, earmarked for the City of Montrose, over 290,000 signatures were gathered from as far away as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Egypt and India.

Montrose city spokesperson Spear said Tuesday that since last Thursday, staff members have received over 200 emails and dozens of calls.

To begin the appeals process Aguilar and his attorney Ondos have 14-days from the time of sentencing to being the appeals process.

 

wwoody@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter.com/williamwoodyCO

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet