Man declines to hand over doomed dog
Deal could keep him alive, but owner cannot be found
Dutch the dog is on the lam and his owner, a U.S. Army veteran, failed to respond to an offer under which Dutch could dodge the death sentence by being sent to an animal sanctuary in southern California.
Jeremiah Aguilar never turned Dutch, a 104-pound American Allaunt, in to Montrose Animal Control after he was ordered to do so last week in Montrose municipal court.
In fact, law enforcement officials never saw Dutch after Judge Richard Brown ordered that Dutch be turned over to Animal Control and sentenced Aguilar to serve two days in jail.
Aguilar’s attorney, Amy Ondos, said after the hearing that she planned to appeal Brown’s ruling. Ondos didn’t return a phone call Thursday to inquire about the status of the case.
In his ruling, Brown blasted the creators of various websites devoted to saving Dutch for creating a “lynch-mob mentality” by vilifying the woman he attacked and ignoring several important aspects of the events surrounding the attack. The woman, Dutch’s onetime owner, had suffered wounds requiring more than $28,000 in medical treatment.
City officials haven’t been notified of any appeal, spokesman David Spear said.
Without an appeal, the next step appears to be for the city to seek a hearing at which Aguilar would have to explain why he failed to turn Dutch over to authorities, Spear said.
A hearing already is set for May 16, at which time the judge is to decide when Aguilar will serve his jail sentence, Spear said.
Soon after Aguilar’s Feb. 14 hearing in which Brown reiterated his ruling that Dutch would have to be put down in the interest of public safety, Brown signaled he was willing to consider an alternative.
“The Court received information from Colleen at Best Friends Sanctuary in Orange County California, who indicated they have a sanctuary facility for dogs such as Dutch which would allow him to be placed at the sanctuary in their care.” Brown wrote.
While Dutch would not be returned to Aguilar, Aguilar could visit and the dog would be cared for, Brown wrote.
“It seems like this might be a good alternative so that Dutch is not euthanized on the one hand, and on the other there is no exposure or risk to the public,” the judge wrote.
City officials signed off on the deal, but there was no response from Aguilar, Spear said.
Should Brown issue a warrant for Aguilar’s arrest, it could be enforced statewide, Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn said.
Several web pages devoted to Dutch remain online. None, however, have referred to Brown’s comments, though a Facebook page, “Save Dutch the Dog,” notes that the originator posted it “on my own accord and the dog Dutch’s owners have not contacted me, asked me to post this, or supplied me with content.”
An online petition to “Save Dutch the Service Dog” has attracted more than 280,000 signatures from around the world. Supporters also have started a petition on the White House petition site.
Dutch attacked his former owner in November after she struck him with a tiki torch pole and pulled him from a fight with a pit bull. She was cleaning his face of blood inside a house when Dutch attacked her, inflicting multiple, deep wounds up and down her back side.
The woman escaped behind a closed door, where she called her fiance—Aguilar’s brother—to rescue her.
Jeremiah Aguilar took Dutch to Oklahoma after the attack, where he trained him as a service dog, Aguilar told the court.
Dutch is a source of comfort for him, Aguilar said, noting that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his wartime service.
Brown ordered him to serve a jail sentence because of Aguilar’s lack of remorse for the suffering of his future sister-in-law.