Stone marker memorializes Buddy the dog
The life of Buddy the dog was cut short by a wicked turn of events, but the memory of the Catahoula leopard dog and awareness for abused pets will endure, thanks to a memorial marker erected Thursday at the entrance of the Roice-Hurst Humane Society, 3320 D 1/2 Road.
Tens of thousands of people worldwide rallied against Buddy’s barbaric end when the stolen family dog was dragged to death Dec. 30 at Colorado National Monument.
In a quiet ceremony Thursday, the dog’s owners, the Leber family of Delta, again said goodbye to Buddy and later toured the humane society filled with pleading puppy dog eyes hoping to be taken home.
“It’s pretty cool to see people think about animals the way we do,” Sasha Leber said with her husband, Joe, and their three young children clinging close. “I was the type to bring strays in. I always thought it was awful for animals to be abused.”
The memorial, which is taller than the Lebers’ children, reads, “In memory of Buddy, and all the animals who have no one to weep for them.”
The stone, etched with paw prints heading toward a setting sun, was donated and placed in a bed of flowers by Snyder Memorials of Grand Junction.
“To do what he did was not right,” said Snyder co-owner, Jim Matticks, his voice boiling in anger as he explained his reason for the donation.
Alleged actions of Steven Romero, 38, continue to hit a nerve with animal lovers around the globe, and as of Thursday more than 260,000 people had connected to a Facebook page and petition site named “Demand Justice for Buddy!” Romero is expected to plead guilty to a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals on April 29 in federal court in Denver.
The attention has thrust the quiet Leber family into an unwanted spotlight, but they say they plan to attend the court hearing, and in the days before, that they will attend a candlelight vigil at the humane society.
Buddy’s remains are not buried at the animal shelter. His ashes are in an urn at their home, Sasha Leber said.
After more than three months since Buddy was stolen from the back of their pickup in Delta, the family still questions why Buddy, and their other dog, Max, a black Labrador retriever and pit bull mix, were taken.
Sasha Leber said she and her husband wondered if the dogs were taken to be fighting dogs, because of Buddy’s robust frame and Max’s mixed breed.
Neither knew Melissa Lockhart, 32, of Fruita, who is accused of taking the dogs.
Max was returned to the Leber family, thanks to coordination from law enforcement and Mesa County Animal Services.
Lockhart, who is Romero’s sister, has pleaded not guilty to stealing the dogs and is slated for trial Aug. 16.
Buddy’s untimely death has spurred some donations in the dog’s name to the humane society, shelter officials said.
Even Buddy had been abused when the Leber family adopted him, and after spending lots of time and love on him, he became a beloved member of the family, Joe Leber said.
When Buddy was yanked away, their wishes for the alleged perpetrators turned to anger.
“We want to see (Romero) get put away,” Sasha Leber said. “With everybody’s help, we’re showing him that no one’s going to back down from what he did.”