Montrose Judge Issues Warrant For Dog’s Owner

Apr 19th @ 8:52 am in News by Scott Staley
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Daily Sentinel

From the Daily Sentinel

The owner of Dutch the dog is now in a bit of dutch himself.

Montrose Municipal Judge Richard Brown issued a bench warrant Thursday for Jeremiah Aguilar, the U.S. Army veteran who has said Dutch is a service dog that calms Aguilar’s symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Aguilar has refused to turn over Dutch to authorities for euthanasia, which was ordered in response to his attack on a former owner last year.

Aguilar was to have explained to Brown on Thursday why he had failed to surrender Dutch, Instead, Aguilar sent a note to the court explaining that he had turned Dutch over to a sanctuary in Oklahoma, Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said.

Interestingly, Alcorn said, the sanctuary is about two miles from his home in Oklahoma. Alcorn recently completed his move from Oklahoma to Montrose, and he said he’d ask his wife, who is still in Oklahoma, to “swing by” and check it out.

A quick check of an Internet site showed the address for Dutch’s new home to be on 13 acres—and for sale, Alcorn said.

Aguilar has a court date next month in Montrose County Court in which he is appealing Brown’s euthanasia order.

Brown also ordered Aguilar to serve two days in jail after finding that Aguilar had no remorse for the woman attacked by Dutch.

The woman suffered bite wounds to her back and legs so deep that some went to the bone.

She also suffered a compound fracture of a finger and has racked up at least $28,000 in medical bills as a result.

From the Daily Press

The city is seeking dismissal of an appeal filed by the man who owns Dutch the dog after the man failed to show up for a Thursday contempt of court hearing.

A bench warrant for Jeremiah Aguilar’s arrest was issued because of his failure to appear, but the contempt proceeding itself could not take place without his presence. The warrant is not valid outside of Montrose.

“On the basis of the failure to appear, it may be grounds to vacate (Aguilar’s) appeal. We will be considering that,” special prosecutor Wyatt Angelo said.

City attorney Steve Alcorn later confirmed that the city will try to have the appeal dismissed.

Aguilar, a veteran, is fighting his municipal court conviction for ownership of a dangerous animal, as well as the court’s Feb. 14 order that Dutch be euthanized.

Dutch repeatedly bit a former owner who was caring for him Nov. 14, 2012, and inflicted severe injuries, according to authorities and the court record. Aguilar maintains that Dutch was provoked, and he said his dog completed training as a service dog after the attack.

The case ignited a firestorm of criticism after online reports said the former owner had beaten Dutch for no reason. Authorities said that is not the case, but that Dutch attacked the woman in her home, where she had taken him after breaking up a fight between him and her pit bull.

More than 200,000 people signed online petitions asking that Dutch be spared. At Aguilar’s Feb. 14 sentencing hearing, Municipal Judge Richard Brown upheld an earlier order for Dutch’s euthanasia, but stayed the order pending Aguilar’s appeal to Montrose County Court.

Aguilar was, however, ordered to surrender Dutch to Montrose Animal Control or an approved animal sanctuary. When he did not, Brown set a hearing at which Aguilar was to show why he should not be held in contempt.

Shortly before Thursday’s hearing, defense attorney Amy Ondos received the address for an Oklahoma dog sanctuary where Aguilar reportedly told her he had placed the dog.

Ondos said she hadn’t had time to verify what type of facility it is and what type of restrictions it has for Dutch, while Alcorn said the address is a private home listed for sale just two miles from where he formerly lived.

This does not preclude the location from being a shelter, he acknowledged; still, he has his doubts, he said.

A message the Daily Press left for the home’s reported owner was not immediately returned on Thursday.

“Obviously, the court was expecting Mr. Aguilar to be here, to say the least,” Brown said in court.

Aguilar’s actions were too little, too late, Angelo said. Angelo is handling the case while the state completes paperwork admitting Alcorn to the bar.

He said Aguilar’s arrangements for Dutch should have been made in advance of the hearing, which had been continued once because Ondos had a conflict.

The city could not proceed with contempt proceedings because of Aguilar’s Sixth Amendment rights, which he had not waived, Angelo said.

“He was supposed to be here today, no ifs, ands or buts,” the prosecutor said, noting that sanctuary information Ondos had received via email had not been verified.

“It’s too little, too late. The appropriate remedy is to issue a bench warrant,” he said.

Ondos said that although it may seem as though Aguilar spurned many offers for sanctuary, he had been researching sanctuaries to find the best fit for Dutch. “He did proactively do this on his own. He was not delaying the process in any way,” Ondos said.

Brown issued the warrant, though he indicated it could be quashed if circumstances change.

“I’m a little nervous that he hasn’t given you more of a heads up,” Brown told Ondos. The judge noted that the court had extended several courtesies to Aguilar, including agreeing to an offer made by a California sanctuary after the Feb. 14 sentencing and continuing the contempt hearing because Ondos had a date conflict.

Aguilar had been aware of the new date, his attorney said.

“For Mr. Aguilar to unilaterally make the decision that he didn’t need to come to court” and unilaterally decide where to place his pet, “is a little presumptive,” Brown said.

If proper verification concerning the Oklahoma sanctuary is provided and the facility is appropriate, that’s fine, Brown said.

Alcorn later said that it’s not the city’s burden to prove the suitability of the Oklahoma sanctuary where Dutch is now reportedly held.

He said he is surprised that Aguilar was a no-show.

“He seems serious about the appeal, and I respect that,” Alcorn said.

The city will, however, seek to dismiss the appeal based on the failure to appear, he said.

“A person has to avail himself of all the remedies. A person cannot appeal to a higher court while ignoring the lower court,” Alcorn said.

“Justice is not á la carte.”

Trial on Aguilar’s appeal had been set for May. Aguilar has since hired an Arkansas law firm, which has indicated it will seek a continuance, Alcorn said.

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