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Vet fights for service dog's life after attack

Jun. 25, 2013 - 01:00PM   |  
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MONTROSE, COLO. — Dutch the service dog is back in custody as its owner mounts a legal fight to keep him.

Jeremiah Aguilar surrendered Dutch to authorities just days before the military veteran is scheduled to go before a judge for refusing to let the dog be euthanized.

Dutch has been ruled a danger because of his attack on a former owner in November. A judge in Montrose sentenced Aguilar to two days in jail after he refused to give the dog to animal control officers, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Aguilar is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. He said his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are eased by caring for Dutch.

Montrose Municipal Judge Richard Brown ordered Aguilar in February to surrender Dutch for euthanasia but later ordered that the dog could be placed in an appropriate sanctuary instead. A hearing on the case is scheduled Friday.

Aguilar made the difficult decision to surrender the dog on Monday to avoid being at risk of losing a possible appeal if found in contempt of a lower court. Aguilar also was unable to leave the state unless he surrendered Dutch.

Aguilar maintains Dutch was provoked before the attack, but the former owner has denied that contention.

She said she broke up a fight between Dutch and her pit bull, and Dutch attacked her when she took him home to clean him up. She had raised Dutch before giving him to Aguilar as a service dog.

Officials reported that Dutch bit the woman three times, sinking his teeth down to the bone.

Aguilar was not present when the woman was attacked. But a dog’s owner is responsible if it attacks a person or another animal, even if the owner doesn’t know that his or her dog might become aggressive, Aguilar’s attorney Brandon Luna said.

“He completely intends to fight for Dutch,” Luna said, noting that the dog was not in immediate danger of being put down.

Luna said the city has promised to keep Dutch safe as the case proceeds.

“We believe Dutch is where he needs to be to allow Jeremiah to do what he needs to do,” Luna said.

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