Spork, the mini Dachshund facing vicious dog charges after biting a veterinary technician's face, got a reprieve Friday. A Lafayette Municipal Court judge granted the dog a 6-month deferred prosecution. If Spork stays out of trouble, all charges will be dropped. The tiny dog has been at the center of a heated debate over vicious dogs since the Aug. 14 attack at Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette. The 10-year-old Dachshund drew national media coverage, his own Facebook page with 23,759 fans and a "Save Spork!" YouTube video.
The vet clinic and Lafayette city council members received death threats after Spork's owners, Tim and Kelly Walker, began fighting vicious dog complaints by the bite victim and a veterinarian, according to the victim and city officials. The Walkers said a ruling that Spork was a vicious dog could have meant a death sentence, kennel confinement or wearing a muzzle the rest of his life.
Bite Victim Needs Two Plastic Surgeries
Yet, the bite victim's side of the story came out in court Friday. A police report and color photograph of Allyson Stone's wounds showed this was no little nip. The 42-year-old vet tech lost inch-wide chunks from her upper and lower lips, the police report said.
Allyson Stone following dog attack.
Stone told police Spork lunged without warning as the vet tech was taking the dog from Kelly Walker for a routine dental cleaning, according to the report. When Stone sought treatment at a local hospital, a police officer overheard a doctor telling the woman she needed treatment from a plastic surgeon, the report stated. Stone said she's already undergone one plastic surgery and will require another to repair the damage. "I never wanted Spork put to sleep or euthanized," Stone told TheDenverChannel.com after the court hearing. "I wanted to protect a child or a community member from the potential of this dog," she added. "I don't want anyone to suffer like this again." Police interviewed Tim Walker, who was not present during the attack, 11 days afterward. Walker said he felt Stone might have been bit because she was "incompetent" at her job, the police report said. "Mr. Walker stated several times that the victim had made a mistake handling his dog and that the bite was an 'occupational hazard," the report said. "Mr. Walker stated he felt his dog was provoked by being at the vet's office in the first place. He further stated that his wife told him that the vet tech approached Spork in an aggressive manner while holding scissors." Stone told police she'd only been attacked by one other dog during her 15-year vet tech career. She added that she's good at reading dogs and never sensed that Spork was acting aggressive or fearful. The tech said she had used scissors to trim excess plastic from an identification collar she'd placed around the dog's neck. But she had put the scissors down when she reached for the dog. After the court hearing, a reporter asked the Walkers if they felt they owed Stone an apology for the dog bite. "No, not really," Tim Walker said. "Of course, we feel bad. But we suffered a lot, too." "We feel really, really bad that anyone was injured in this event," Tim Walker added. Later Friday, a spokesman for The Animal Law Center, which defended the Walkers in court, issued a written clarification about why the dog owners "will not apologize directly to (Stone)." "As is clear in the police report from Aug. 14, 2009, Ms. Stone decided to aggressively pursue charges against the Walkers and has reiterated that desire to the City of Lafayette in subsequent discussions," the statement said. "As a result, she placed the Walkers in a position where they could not and will not apologize for fear that it would compromise their legal rights further than the charges already have," the law center's statement added. "During this entire ordeal, the Walkers have repeated their regret for the unfortunate accident." Yet, according to the police report, when an officer asked Stone if she wanted to pursue vicious dog charges on Aug. 14, she stated "that she was too upset to think about it at this time." The police report indicated it was only when police re-interviewed Stone six days after the incident that she reiterated her desire to follow through with charges. Stone said, "She was fearful that Spork will bite someone, possibly his owner, in the future," the report said. At issue in the dispute was a conflict between state law and Lafayette's vicious dog city ordinance. According to state law in Colorado, a dog owner is not liable for a dog bite if the person bitten is a vet, groomer or anyone who works closely with animals.But city of Lafayette is asserting home-rule exception, which means they do not have to follow state law.