MONTROSE, Colo. - Stories circulating on the Internet about a service dog that bit a former owner after she bit him have prompted a large response to the situation that unfolded in Montrose, Colo.
As sometimes happens, the Internet stories don't jibe with the facts obtained by officials involved in the situation.
According to the Internet story published by www.dogheirs.com, "An Army Veteran with disabilities is asking for the public's help in saving his service dog, Dutch, from court-ordered euthanasia. After being punched, kicked, and hit with a metal pole for several minutes, Dutch bit his attacker and has now been accused of being a 'vicious' dog. "
The dog may face euthanasia and a Facebook page with 16,000 followers has been started to try and save his life. A "Save Dutch" petition site was also launched.
The Montrose Daily Press reported on Friday it has been logging calls from as far away as Canada and Australia, and receiving Facebook messages about the matter. People have also begun sharing letters they are sending to city leadership.
The Montrose Police Department and Montrose Animal Control have a different version of the events that transpired last November.
Both versions agree that the dog was left with the former owner while the current owner drove a friend to the airport.
A police and animal control investigation confirmed the woman was breaking up a dogfight in which Dutch was involved with a pitbull. This part of the story wasn't mentioned in dogheirs.com story, which begins with the woman attacking the dog for no apparent reason.
After hitting him with her hands failed to stop the dog, the woman told police she grabbed a lightweight pole from a tiki torch to force him off the second dog he was attacking. She managed to pull him off, using his collar woman said she had to put her hands in his mouth to pry him off her. When she retreated toward her bedroom, she tripped, and said Dutch attacked again, biting her buttock, again penetrating to the bone, authorities said. When she tried to pry his jaws off her, Dutch bit her finger so hard it caused a compound fracture and severed an artery, the Montrose Press reported.
The woman's medical bills have mounted to about $24,000, Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn told The Montrose Press.
"She is fortunate to have escaped that attack with her life," Animal Services Supervisor Mike Duncan told the newspaper. "She loved the dog, but she is very concerned for anyone who is going to be around that dog from now on."
The dog's owner, Jeremy Aguilar, is a disabled veteran and says Dutch is a registered service dog, but investigators said the dog didn't start service dog training until after the November incident.
Aguilar is due in Montrose Municipal Court on Feb. 14. He said animal control has recommended that Dutch be euthanized. He said he will appeal, if euthanasia is ordered.
-- Read City of Montrose statement on incident --
City Provides Information About Vicious Animal Case (posted Feb. 8, 2012)
Several internet sites are presenting information about a Montrose Animal Services vicious animal case involving Dutch, an American Allaunt canine. Unfortunately, some of the information being circulated is either incomplete or incorrect.
While city officials respect the rights of individuals to express their opinions in this matter, they also caution the public to consider details of the incident that were revealed in Municipal Court, through physical evidence, and testimony of the victim and other witnesses.
On November 14, 2012, Montrose Animal Control officers were notified by Montrose Memorial Hospital that they were treating a female who had been attacked by a dog. The victim had sustained deep bite wounds to her buttock, thigh and hand.
The dog’s owner, Jeremiah Aguilar, had left the dog at the victim’s home while he was out of town. The victim, who was Dutch’s previous owner, responded to a commotion in her back yard and discovered that Dutch was involved in a fight with a pit bull. The victim struck Dutch with her hands in an unsuccessful attempt to free the pit bull. She then hit the dog once with a light-weight tiki torch pole, which immediately bent and was discarded. She was eventually able to pull Dutch away from the other dog, using the dog’s collar.
Dutch again attacked the other dog, biting it on the leg. The victim succeeded in pulling Dutch away and into her home where she released the dog. 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 victim was able to break free and take refuge in the bedroom where she telephoned her fiancé to come to her aid. While waiting several minutes for his arrival the dog continued to attempt to enter the room and damaged several pieces of furniture in the home. The victim did not call the police or ambulance out of fear that the emergency responders would be attacked.
The victim’s fiancé and another man entered the home and observed Dutch sitting quietly on the floor. The same pit bull from the previous attack entered the home and Dutch again attacked the dog. The second man hit Dutch repeatedly with a board from a broken picture frame to free the pit bull. The victim’s fiancé was then able to enter the bedroom and provide assistance to the victim.
The case was reviewed by the City Attorney's office to determine whether the circumstances met the requirements of the ordinance. Based upon the evidence it was determined that the city should proceed with the prosecution. The case was heard in Montrose Municipal Court on January 17, 2013, and the dog’s owner was found guilty of violating the city’s vicious animals ordinance (City of Montrose Municipal Code, Section 6-2-9(A)).
Sentencing by Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown will occur on Thursday, February 14. The vicious animal ordinance contains several provisions to protect the public, which can be imposed at judge’s discretion. In addition, violations of the ordinance can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000 or by imprisonment in jail for up to one year, or both.
Montrose Animal Services is operated by a professional staff who takes great pride in their work.
“I have been in this job for 15 years because I love to care for animals and protect them,” said Animal Services Supervisor Mike Duncan. “But my job also includes protecting the public, and I also take that part of my job very seriously.”
“In any vicious animal case, our primary concern is for the safety of anyone who may come in contact with the animal in the future. This is the worst incident of an animal attack that I have seen. In the dozens of vicious animal cases I’ve investigated, I have never seen a case where the animal was as aggressive in pursuing the victim multiple times.”
“Rehabilitation of the dog is one of the options in this case. The challenge is to try to predict how an animal will behave in the future, when it has already shown that it is capable of inflicting a vicious attack. It is easy to say that a dog won’t attack again. But if it does, the results, especially with a dog of this size, could be very serious, even life-threatening.”