MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO) -- The dog that caused an internet uproar in Montrose will be put down.
Judge Richard Brown for the Montrose Municipal Court handed down the decision Thursday morning after hearing testimony from Dutch the dog's owner, Jeremiah Aguilar, and the victim-- who, for safety reasons, has not been identified.
The four-year-old American Allaunt's story received national attention when it was published on DogHeirs.com. The writer claimed that the female victim-- Dutch's former owner and Aguilar's future sister-in-law-- beat the dog, which then attacked her out of self-defense.
Thousands shared the story, adding 264,712 signatures to the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition and 22,591 likes to the Facebook page "Save Dutch," which has since been taken down.
However, Judge Brown said Thursday that the internet portrayal of the victim as a cruel dog-hater isn't accurate and is lacking details.
According to Montrose Animal Control, on Nov. 14, 2013, the victim was taking care of Dutch while the Aguilars were out. Dutch got in a fight with one of the victim's dogs in her yard, so she tried to break up them up. She hit Dutch once with a tiki-torch --not a metal rod contrary to some reports-- then pulled him away using his collar. Animal Control says as she began to clean blood off his face, Dutch turned on her. He bit her deeply on her buttock, thigh and hand before she was able to escape to her bedroom.
When she testified in court on Thursday, the victim says she feared for her life when Dutch pinned her down on her stomach and wouldn't let her move.
The judge said he found no fault with the victim's actions, but he saw many red flags in Dutch's behavior. A big warning sign was that Dutch would attack a woman who raised him for two years without incident. That's why the judge decided on euthanasia, not rehabilitation as Aguilar requested.
Internet reports said that Dutch was a longtime service dog for Aguilar, a veteran who suffered from PTSD. However, the judge revealed that Dutch was not a registered service dog until after the incident occurred. Judge Brown further said that even though Aguilar was a veteran, it had nothing to do with this case except add a positive sympathy factor.
In his testimony Thursday, Aguilar said losing Dutch would be like losing a member of his family. He said he had to go to the Grand Junction VA Medical Center Wednesday night because he suffered an anxiety attack and passed out. His lawyer made the point that the situation is causing Aguilar both mental and physical pain.
The victim said she also has anxiety after the attack, suffering from nightmares and post-traumatic stress. She's been forced to incur $28,000 in medical bills, and her fiance has been sleeping with a gun in his bed because he's aware of the threats against her online, she said.
Judge Brown says the stories posted online are incomplete and misleading, making the victim out to be a dog abuser rather than a reasonable woman working to prevent a dog fight. He says he does not blame her for trying to break up the fight.
The judge repeatedly expressed his concern over the "lynch-mob" mentality forming against the victim, and the various internet attacks and threats she's received. Judge Brown says there has also been no apparent attempt by Aguilar to correct the false stories about the victim.
Weighing all the factors, Brown said the victim's story has always been consistent, and he is not willing to risk another attack from Dutch.
However, Brown ordered Animal Control to take no action until all appeals are complete. Aguilar's lawyer promised to file an appeal before his client rushed out of the courtroom.
Aguilar was also sentenced to 20 days in jail (18 days suspended, two days served) and $500 in fines ($250 suspended). He is also required to pay $1,000 in restitution to the victim.
Aguilar has also been instructed not to harass or intimidate the victim through any online postings.
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