An emotional case came to a head when an arrest warrant was issued yesterday for Jeremiah Aguilar, an Army veteran who's been living in Montrose.
Aguilar's crime? He's refused to turn over his service dog, Dutch, for euthanization after the animal severely injured its previous owner.
Despite the injuries, many thousands of people have rallied to Dutch's cause via a social media campaign and a popularl petition. Details and photos below.
Last year, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Dutch, a four-year-old American Allaunt registered as a service dog, attacked his previous owner. The dog is said to have bitten the woman so severely on her back and legs that teeth struck bone. Her medical bills -- including treatment of a compound fracture to one finger -- are estimated at $28,000.
The spin on this story from Dutch's advocates is considerably different. An article on Dogheirs.com says Dutch lashed out only "after being punched, kicked, and hit with a metal pole for several minutes."
Here's the description of the incident from the piece:
On November 14, 2012, Jeremy and Heather left Dutch with his former owner in Montrose, Colorado, while they drove a family member to the airport.
According to Heather, Dutch's former owner admitted to animal control officers and in court that she was beating Dutch before he bit her.
Heather says that Dutch's former owner said, "I started punching him in the face and kept punching him until my hands hurt so bad I couldn't hit him anymore," after which she grabbed a metal pole and used the pole to beat the service dog. She then pulled Dutch from her backyard into the house by his collar, and grabbed his mouth as soon as they got inside. Dutch then bit her. The woman was bitten on her leg and buttock and Dutch sustained injuries to his face and head.
There's no mention on Dogheirs.com of what provoked the former owner to strike Dutch. But the site does feature a medical report on the dog; it states that Dutch's head was swollen and there was evidence of dried blood.
According to Dogheirs.com, Aguilar, who says Dutch helps him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder that followed his service in Afghanistan and Iraq, offered to put the dog through rehabilitation training, and the judge would have been okay with that had the previous owner signed off on the plan. When she didn't, however, the court process moved forward, with Aguilar ordered to surrender Dutch to authorities so that he could be euthanized.
To protest this edict, Dutch's supporters started an online petition entitled "Save Dutch the Service Dog." Its massive 300,000 signature goal has not been met at this writing, but it's mighty close, with more than 297,000 people having lent their names to the cause.
There's also a Save Dutch Facebook page with more than 22,000 likes.
These number don't appear to have had an impact on Montrose Municipal Judge Richard Brown, who issued a bench warrant for Aguilar at a hearing yesterday. The Sentinel reports that rather than appearing before the judge, Aguilar sent a note revealing that he had given Dutch to an animal sanctuary located in Oklahoma.
What's next in this saga? Well, Aguilar has a court date next month at which he was to appeal the order to euthanize Dutch. In the meantime, however, he's a wanted man.
Here are more photos of Dutch from the Save Dutch Facebook page.
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