Owner Ignores Court Order to Surrender Dog for Violation of Vicious Animals Ordinance
MONTROSE – The attorney for Jeremiah Aguilar, whose dog Dutch attacked a Montrose woman now facing more than $28,000 in medical bills, has appealed a court ruling that the dog must be euthanized.
Amy Ondos mailed an appeal to the Montrose Municipal Court last week that is now in Montrose County Court.
The City of Montrose has the option of either handling the appeal in Municipal Court or transferring it to Montrose County Court for review by the District's Attorney's office, and the assigning of a court date.
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 after the attack. The bites severed an artery and caused a compound fracture to her middle finger of her right hand.
At a Feb. 14 sentencing hearing, Aguilar contended Dutch’s attack was provoked by the victim, who had broken up a dogfight, and that the 107-pound American Allaunt had acted in self defense. At that same hearing, the victim, still wearing a medical brace on her hand, testified she remained traumatized by the attack, and was terrified by threats she has received since the story received widespread attention on the internet. Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown upheld an earlier verdict that Aguilar had violated the city's vicious animals ordinance, and ordered that Dutch be put down.
The case has drawn national and international interest, with hundreds of signatures on petitions to save Dutch, who Aguilar, an Army veteran, contends is a service dog helping him cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"He brings me back to reality," Aguilar told the court at the Feb. 14 hearing. "Give him [Dutch] a chance for rehabilitation."
Aguilar, who said Dutch had never shown aggression in the past, told the court he was hospitalized in the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs facility on Feb. 13 because he was overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of his dog being put down. Losing Dutch "would be like losing a family member," he said.
But Judge Brown countered that Dutch "was never a service dog," describing the dog as "the aggressor" in the Nov. 14 attack, which transpired as the victim tried to clean Dutch’s wounds from the dogfight. Brown went on to chastise Aguilar for showing “a lack of remorse" for the victim.
After the Feb. 14 ruling, Best Friends Sanctuary, of Orange County Calif., contacted the court, saying it would take Dutch, and offering Aguilar visitation rights, but requiring him to surrender the dog. Judge Brown praised the offer as a possible solution requiring “no exposure or risk to the public," but Aguilar did not respond, and the Best Friends offer expired on Feb. 19.
As of press time, Dutch has not been surrendered to animal control officers, and attempts to reach Aguilar have been unsuccessful.
City of Montrose spokesperson David Spear said no decision has been made about where the case will be reviewed, but that a decision could come next week. In the past, Montrose city and county courts have worked together, thanks to an intergovernmental arrangement between the DA's office and city attorney's office, to better handle cases and appeals.
In addition to the appeal, a show cause hearing has been set for Thursday, April 11, at 2 p.m., in Municipal Court, where Aguilar stands in violation for not handing Dutch over to Montrose Animal Control officers after being ordered to do so on Feb. 14.
An appeal in Montrose County Court would guarantee a new trial for Dutch.
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