Posted: Feb 15, 2013 8:54 AM by Elaine Sheridan
Updated: Feb 15, 2013 8:57 AM
MONTROSE, Colo. (AP/KKCO) - Despite a nationwide petition with over 250-thousand signatures asking for a service dog to be saved, a municipal judge says the dog should be euthanized, but he says no action should occur until appeals are complete.
The four-year-old American Allaunt dog owned by veteran, Jeremiah Aguilar received national attention when it was published on DogHeirs.com. The writer claimed that the female victim-- Dutch's former owner and Aguilar's future sister-in-law-- beat the dog, which then attacked her out of self-defense.
Thousands shared the story, adding 264,712 signatures to the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition and 22,591 likes to the Facebook page "Save Dutch," which has since been taken down.
NBC affilliate, KKCO-TV in Grand Junction reports that the judge said Thursday that the internet portrayal of the victim as a cruel dog-hater isn't accurate and is lacking details.
According to Montrose Animal Control, on Nov. 14, 2013, the victim was taking care of Dutch for Aguilar. Dutch got in a fight with one of the victim's dogs in her yard, so she tried to break up them up. She hit Dutch once with a tiki-torch --not a metal rod contrary to some reports-- then pulled him away using his collar. Animal Control says as she began to clean blood off his face, Dutch turned on her. He bit her deeply on her buttock, thigh and hand before she was able to escape to her bedroom.
When she testified in court on Thursday, the victim says she feared for her life when Dutch pinned her down on her stomach and wouldn't let her move.
Internet reports said that Dutch was a longtime service dog for Aguilar, a veteran who suffered from PTSD. However, the judge revealed that Dutch was not a registered service dog until after the incident occurred. Judge Brown further said that even though Aguilar was a veteran, it had nothing to do with this case except add a positive sympathy factor.
In his testimony Thursday, Aguilar said losing Dutch would be like losing a member of his family. He said he had to go to the Grand Junction VA Medical Center Wednesday night because he suffered an anxiety attack and passed out. His lawyer made the point that the situation is causing Aguilar both mental and physical pain.
The victim said she also has anxiety after the attack, suffering from nightmares and post-traumatic stress. She's been forced to incur $28,000 in medical bills, and her fiance has been sleeping with a gun in his bed because he's aware of the threats against her online, she said.
Weighing all the factors, the judge said the victim's story has always been consistent, and he is not willing to risk another attack from Dutch.
However, the judge ordered Animal Control to take no action until all appeals are complete. Aguilar was sentenced Thursday to pay $1,250 in fines and serve two days in jail. His lawyer plans to appeal. Aguilar has also been instructed not to harass or intimidate the victim through any online postings.