Outrage online over suspect in dog’s death

Thousands of people have signed off on an online petition seeking a harsh punishment for a Fruita man accused of dragging a dog to death last week on Colorado National Monument.

The petition, “Demand Justice For Buddy,” appears on the social networking site Facebook and claimed 2,788 signatures as of noon Sunday. The goal, organizers wrote, was to ensure 37-year-old Steven Clay Romero, the suspect in the Dec. 30 torture and death of a German shepherd mix, “spends every single minute” in federal prison allowed under law and be subject to a maximum fine.

The petition was created by a Facebook user identified as Athena Bane of Washington, D.C., and is being administered by Bane and five other animal activists.

The site’s creation was reported by The Denver Post on Sunday, illustrative of a flood of online interest in the dog’s death.

Karen Sommers, of Colorado Springs, wrote in an e-mail to The Daily Sentinel she was prepared to drive to Grand Junction to sit in on Romero’s court hearings.

“I still cannot stop crying over what that poor dog went through,” Sommers wrote, among dozens of similar e-mails from readers in Colorado and nationwide.

Romero is scheduled for a detention hearing today at the Wayne N. Aspinall federal building, when a federal prosecutor is expected to push for Romero’s continued pre-trial detention during arguments over bond.

During his first appearance on Thursday, Romero said he planned on hiring his own attorney.

Romero is being held without bond on suspicion of aggravated cruelty to animals, a federal felony, at the Mesa County Jail. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Mary Gonzalez said Romero is being housed with the jail’s general population, as opposed to segregation for security reasons.


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