Jeremiah Aguilar, Army vet, surrenders but doesn't turn in service dog marked for death
Last month, we told you about Jeremiah Aguilar, an Army vet with post traumatic stress disorder who defied a judge's order to euthanize his service dog, Dutch, after the animal allegedly attacked and badly injured a temporary caretaker.
Now, Aguilar has surrendered to authorities.
However, he refuses to divulge Dutch's whereabouts amid continuing attempts to save the dog's life via legal means and a vigorous online campaign.
As we've reported, 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.
Jeremiah Aguilar and Dutch.
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.
Dutch with a friend.
According to Dogheirs.com, Aguilar, who says Dutch helps him deal with PTSD 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." At this writing, 302,907 people have signed the petition, which has a listed goal of 303,000.
There's also a Save Dutch Facebook page with more than 22,000 likes.
This support didn't dissuade Montrose Municipal Judge Richard Brown from issuing a bench warrant for Aguilar at a mid-April hearing. But rather than appearing before the judge, Aguilar sent a note revealing that he had given Dutch to an animal sanctuary located in Oklahoma.
Plenty of developments have taken place since then. According to a May 20 Save Dutch Facebook page update, "the judge in Montrose, Colorado has granted the prosecutors' motion to dismiss the appeal. This means the order to euthanize Dutch stands!"
To complicate matters further, Aguilar is said to have sacked his previous attorney and moved on to new representation. Then, yesterday, the following post appeared on the page: "Jeremy turned himself in today. He has been bonded out. He has to stay in Colorado until the end of the week to find out if he can leave the state and go home."
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that a half-dozen veterans were on hand to support Aguilar when he surrendered. He's now got a court date of June 6, although his current lawyer, Brandon Luna, is hoping to change it.
As for Dutch, his whereabouts have not been divulged, but the Save Dutch page stresses that he is safe. The page adds, "Please remember what we are trying to do is overturn the order to euthanize Dutch and return him to Jeremy where he belongs. That is our only goal; however, Jeremy hopes that his case will somehow make a difference and spare someone else from suffering the same fate in the future."
Here are more photos of Dutch from the Save Dutch Facebook page.
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