In a small western Colorado city, a 150-pound or larger American Allaunt alleged "service dog" is in danger of being euthanized -- possibly this very week -- as a consequence of his having attacked a woman last November 2012, and his owner's having been cited under the community's "vicious animals" ordinance. A judge ruled in January that the animal should be put down, but its owner and his friends have launched an online campaign to save the dog which has included no small amount of withholding of certain key facts, along with spinning the story such that the biting victim is cast as an abuser who provoked the attack for no good reason, and who's lying about both what happened and her concomitant injuries. A petition to save the animal on the notoriously blindly animal-loving Care2 website has been signed by some nearly quarter million people, at this writing; yet the real facts of the story are becoming lost.
In this comprehensive article, writer Gregg DesElms provides the straight skinny, and warns others to be careful about being manipulated by the dog's zealous owners, supporters and apologists.
Analysis and Opinion
by Gregg L. DesElms
Tue 12 Feb 2013 @ 2:00 PM PST
NOTE: Thurs 14 Feb update included at this article's end.
NOTE: Wed 20 Feb update included after 14 Feb update.
More updates coming. Check-back often.
Montrose, Colorado is a town of around 15,000 mostly white people, located in the western half of the state about 60 miles south-southeast of Grand Junction. Named after Sir Walter Scott's novel A Legend of Montrose in 1882, the small community has served as both a shipping center (on account of its railroads), and an agricultural center (on account of its canal); and its Shavano Valley Rock Art Site, where are featured art panels depicting the cultural events of prehistoric people dating back to 1,000 BC or earlier, has helped to earn it a place on both the state and federal registries of historic places. Beyond that, Montrose hasn't been famous for very much...
...that is, until this past week or so, when the city manager's office, and its animal control office, became inundated with cards, letters, emails and phone calls -- literally hundreds of them, from all over the world -- demanding that a dog named "Dutch" not be euthanized, as is the current court-ordered plan for the animal after it attacked a woman on November 14, 2012. There's even a petition on the Care2 Petition Site which, as of this writing, has garnered some just under 250,000 signatures. Here's the petition's pitch:
Save Dutch the Service Dog
Dutch was accused of being a "vicious" dog and is now in danger of euthanization by court order. Last November, he bit someone and left puncture wounds. The person who was bit admits that they spent several minutes punching, kicking, and hitting him with a metal pole before he retaliated. [...] Send a message to the City of Montrose animal control office to stop the unwarranted euthanization of an Army Veteran's service dog by signing and sharing this petition.
Note the referral to Dutch as "an Army Veteran's service dog." More on that, and the many other distortions in this pitch, later.
An official Save Dutch Facebook page was started on February 3rd, which page tells the seemingly-compelling story of a gentle and not-aggressive dog that is a victimized innocent undeserving of death. The dog-loving Dog Heirs website, which is the petition's go-to source for an accurate explanation of the events, bears the headline: "Disabled veteran asks for public support; service dog faces euthanasia for biting woman who beat him with metal pole."
According to those clamoring to save Dutch, the four-year-old American Allaunt (an extinct breed) has been owned for the past three years by Jeremy Aguilar. He and his wife, Heather, have had the animal since its original owner, a woman -- the very woman whom Dutch bit, as it turns out -- who could no longer control and properly take care of it, gave it to the Aguilars. As the Dog Heirs site explains it:
An Army Veteran with disabilities is asking for the public's help in saving his service dog, Dutch, from court-ordered euthanasia. After being punched, kicked, and hit with a metal pole for several minutes, Dutch bit his attacker and has now been accused of being a "vicious" dog.
Dutch is a 4-year-old American Allaunt, who is a registered service dog and an important part of Jeremy Aguilar's life. According to the Aguilars, Dutch has never shown any aggressive behavior before or after the incident and is a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen.
Jeremy served in the Army, and fought in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also was also deployed to Hurricane Katrina with the Oklahoma National Guard, which was the first unit to show up. Dutch came into Jeremy’s life a month after he married his wife Heather three years ago. Heather says that Dutch has been "the most therapeutic thing that could have ever happened" to her husband.
The Dog Heirs site goes on to spin the story thusly:
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.
Then, in a section entitled "Dutch's Injuries," the Dog Heirs site continued:
After the incident, Dutch was taken to a veterinarian who evaluated Dutch's wounds. The veterinarian's report stated:
"Face swollen like he was hit. Extensive ST trauma on left side of face. Swelling extends from nose up to eye and base of ear. Some dried blood noted on dog's fur but no wounds apparent in mouth or on face/body.
"Note - dog was extremely well-mannered and sweet in exam room. He did not require restraint during his exam, even when his abdomen, testicles and swollen face were palpated."
The Aguilars say that when they saw Dutch after the incident, his eye was swollen shut and his snout had swelled to three times its normal size.
The Dog Heirs article is careful to characterize the bitten woman's weapon as a "metal pole," and it even shows a photo of the post-incident and bent pole lying on the ground, looking as menacing as possible.
The next section of the Dog Heirs article describes Dutch's temperament, and quotes Carrie Williams, a so-called "highly recognized and experienced retired dog trainer and evaluator who has evaluated for organizations including Therapy Dogs International (TDI) and the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC)." As expected, Williams attests that Dutch is "anything but aggressive." Her assessment is bolstered by Sandie Wyman, an alleged ACK CGC evaluator, who said: "I am the CGC evaluator that tested this sweet dog. He did pass with flying colors and even gave me a kiss afterwards. This means that he will receive a real title from AKC stating he can now visit elderly people at nursing homes. I believe this dog is anything but aggressive. I am a certified dog trainer and have also done behavior objectives on animals. Dutch is anything but aggressive."
The article continues to explain that the City of Montrose's Animal Control office was pressured by the bitten woman to cite Aguilar under the city's vicious animals ordinance, which carries a potential sentence of one year in jail; and to further the notion of the woman's unreasonableness, the article cites that when presented with the option of Aguilar putting the animal through some kind of rehabilitation (to which the judge said he would only agree if the victim agreed), the woman victim refused.
The judge is Richard Brown of the City of Montrose Municipal Court. That's the person to whom city manager Bill Bell defers whenever anyone contacts him and demands that Dutch be spared because it's out of the city's hands and in the hands of the Court, now, he insists. “The No. 1 thing for people to know," Bell said, "is that no matter how many times they call the city offices or the City Council, we don’t interfere with the judicial branch of our city government.”
That judicial branch, voiced by Judge Brown, has ordered Dutch's death by euthanization, partly on the recommendation of the city's animal control office in a memorandum to the Court; and the judge ordered Aguilar to post a $500 appearance bond, and to surrender the animal to Animal Control by no later than this Thursday, February 14th (but preferably earlier). On that date, Judge Brown has scheduled a hearing, during which he'll learn if the animal has been surrendered; and during which Aguilar will learn what will be his fine and possible jail sentence, as well as what restitution, if any, he will have to pay to the bitten woman. When Aguilar posted the bond, the judge promised him that if he failed to surrender the dog, he would serve every bit of the one year in jail.
It all sounds pretty over-the-top, doesn't it? To hear Dutch's supporters tell it, the judge is a tyrant, and the bitten woman is actually the dog's abuser who's just going after him and his owner for no good reason; that she's overblowing the situation; that her wounds were just superficial, and she brought it on herself, in any case, by provoking the animal.
The Save Dutch Facebook page contains posting after posting of both the Aguilars and their supporters who insist that it's all a big railroad job; that Dutch is being treated unfairly; that he's not aggressive and wouldn't have harmed the woman if she hadn't been beating him; that the dog has been through "service dog" training, and so, therefore, enjoys special protections; and that he's also been through the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC), and the Facebook page is rife with photos and video clips of a trainer taking a service-dog-red-vested Dutch through a mall, where everyone appears to love him, and not be afraid of him. Featured prominently on the page is a photo of a three-year-old-boy, referred to only as Dutch's "buddy" R.J., showing the child and the dog relaxing together on a sofa, the child obviously in no danger despite the animal's size and allegations of his aggression.
A woman named Heather Marseillan, the "Tacoma Pets Examiner" on The Examiner website, has now weighed-in all the way from Washington state. She wrote that Dutch "was punched, kicked, and beat with a metal pole before biting his attacker in self defense and has now been labeled by the court as a vicious dog. To many it seems that Dutch’s attacker should be the one being labeled as vicious but the service dog is the one in trouble." Marseillan continued:
Dutch, a 4-year-old American Allaunt, is a registered service dog and a vital part of Jeremy Aguilar's life. The service dog is has never shown any signs of aggressive behavior before or after this incident and is a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen. Service animals are specially trained and can not show aggression of any sort, but when a dog is fighting for his life it seems expected that he would react. Without service animals many people are not able to live a normal life. About a month after Jeremy married his wife Heather, three years ago, he got Dutch. Heather has said that Dutch has been "the most therapeutic thing that could have ever happened" to her husband.
Such a miscarriage of justice, the both woefully and sadly misguided Ms Marseillan would have us believe. So unfair to poor Dutch and his owners, the Aguilars and others on the Save Dutch Facebook page would have us believe. What to do, what to do. One can almost hear the mournful wringing of hands and worried pacing.
Sadly, though, it's only half the story: by no small coincidence, just the half intended to pull at your heartstrings and make you feel the kind of pity for the dog and sympathy for his owners that might well compell you to become one of the hapless now nearly 250,000 obviously gullible and undiscerning people who have signed the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" online petition. It is my unmitigated outrage at how those behind said petition, and the Facebook page, have decided to win at all costs -- even if it means lying and distorting and misrepresenting and flat-out leaving-out essential facts which give some balance to the story -- that has motivated me to write this one. Granted, the Dog Heirs website finally grudgingly made a passing acknowledgement to some balancing information by linking to it, though without explanation; but not until its initial version of the story had been out there for days, and had stirred-up a hornet's nest of public support for what it had maliciously, in my opinion, helped to convince people was an grave injustice when, in fact, there has been nothing of the sort. Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists, then, have no integrity; and that, as much as anything else, is the problem.
Don't be impressed by the numbers
Some years ago, when the 21st century was but two years old, I managed, as a volunteer, a very high-profile website owned and operated by the family of a very high-profile missing person; and of all the lessons I learned from the experience, the sheer numbers of it all is at the top of the list. Those of us of advancing years who remember, well, what life was like without the Internet; and whose only understanding of commerce was that of a brick-and-mortar world and the numbers associated therewith that a person can actually see and comprehend, sometimes have trouble wrapping our minds around the sheer numbers of visitors to a website that a big news story can generate. The case was so big, and our website was getting so many hits, that when its URL was shown across the bottom of the screen during two consecutive mornings of interviews by Diane Sawyer with the prime suspect in the case on ABC's Good Morning America (GMA) program, the site was completely choked to a standstill for around 45 minutes after said interviews were shown in each time zone across the United States.
After the first morning, Yahoo (which had donated the web hosting server space to the cause) put its best people onto the task of mirroring the site out across multiple data centers, and then carefully load-balancing the servers, routers and switches so that even if millions of people tried to visit the site at the same time from around the country, each server would only handle a small part of it and so there would be no more choking of the servers with all those hits until they just choked and stopped, as happened the first morning. So, on the second morning, when part 2 of Sawyer's interview with the famous prime suspect was aired, we looked forward to the site staying-up after its URL was displayed across the bottom of the screen toward the interview's end. But, alas, it was not to be. All servers in all data centers across the US were still choked to a stop by the overwhelming traffic. There were so many visitors to the site as each time zone broadcast the interview, and as it then rippled across the country, that even mirroring and load balancing had no effect. I've been in IT for pushing 40 years, and I know something about what it takes to bring down a multi-homed, multi-mirrored, multi-load-balanced website... especially one as well-engineered as our site had become by that second morning. No calculator I own was capable of handling all the zeros. I had to go into scientific notation mode to even adequately express it. No one on the Yahoo team had ever seen anything like it. It was one for the record books, for sure.
That's when it really hit me: the sheer numbers involved with the Internet... far more than most of we mere mortals -- and certainly our calculators -- can even fathom. No wonder even websites that sell objectively stupid stuff, I thought to myself, somehow still make money and survive... nay, thrive! The numbers of potential customers are just so mind-bogglingly huge that it only requires a tiny fraction of them to make even only small purchases, and, bingbangboom, a site owner can get rich in no time.
That's what we must keep in mind when contemplating the some quarter-million or so poor, misguided souls who have signed the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition. It sounds like a lot of people. In fact, even Aguilar is impressed by it. Here's what he wrote on the Save Dutch Facebook site about his first court appearance, and the over 200,000 petition signatures that have since occurred:
At the end of the court session I was asked by the judge if I had any questions and [I] asked if there was any possible way that I could send him to rehabilitation. He said no. So now they are saying euthanasia is only one of the options??? No, it was the only option I was given. Now that Dutch has so many supporters my voice is being heard. I guess no one wants to listen to one man, but will listen when over 200,000 people speak up.
Don't bet on it... especially after I make sure that all involved on the city's side of this issue read this article and get some perspective. On today's Internet, 200,000 petition signers is nothing. After Obama was re-elected in November, some GOP nutjobs in Texas launched a petition to secede Texas from the Union, and it got something like 25,000 signatures in about 8 seconds flat (not really... it actually took like a half a day or something, but my point is that it was fast). Next thing ya' know, there were 50,000; and then there was a duplicate petition for each of the other 49 states... some of which even beat-out Texas's sheer numbers in only a day or so. To those behind the petitions it all seemed like a lot, but it wasn't... neither in terms of being a percentage of all Americans or, especially, a percentage of the kinds of sheer numbers of people who can rally behind an online cause in a very short time. I wrote about it here, and here.
To keep it in perspective, our missing person site got over 200,000 unique visitors every less than a minute or so... and that was on a slow day! We had so many people signing our guest book that I had to put it into read-only mode several times a week just so the volunteer moderators (and we had a whole team of them) could get caught-up and find and delete the spam and other abuse. And it's not just our missing person site that had experienced such mind-boggling numbers. Whenever there's a big and breaking news story, the folks at Google will tell you that so many people visit the Google News site to read about it that the hit counters quite literally just give-up sometimes; and servers crash; and data pipes fill-up; and load-balancers fail; and the engineers who thought they understood the sheer numbers just sit around in amazement, trying to figure out how to keep it from happening during the next big breaking news story. Sites like that see, in just fractions of a second, as many unique visitors as have signed Dutch's petition. Just fractions! And so, I would encourage those in little Montrose, Colorado to be very careful about becoming impressed with how many people have signed the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition. Even if it hit half a million, it would still mean nothing, given the sheer numbers wrought by today's Internet. Truth is, it would be far more telling if all 15-thousand-something people living in Montrose all wanted Dutch's life spared... and that's clearly not the case.
“You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not
based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe.”
- Carl Sagan
Those who have signed Dutch's petition, and who are commenting in his support on the Save Dutch Facebook page, are a combination of those who have simply been misled, as well as those who are animal lovers of such nutty intensity that they routinely personify them; people who ascribe to animals decidedely and uniquely human ways of acting and reacting; and who think that animals should have the same rights as people. And on the Care2 site, where Dutch's petition may be found, you can't throw a cyber rock without hitting one: they're everywhere, there... and unreasonable -- rabidly so, in fact -- to the last of them! I predict that when this article is read by them, I will be nothing short of Satan in their minds. Mark my words, and watch for their outrageousness in the comments beneath this article. Heck, over on the Reddit site, a poster whose monicker is "Audog" dared to go against the pro-Dutch status quo with what I thought was a quite reasonable posting about how the law views service dogs, and which ended with this:
It doesn't bode well in a court of law when attempts are made to bolster Dutch's legitimacy as a Service Animal by slapping a label on him after an incident has happened, not to mention that if Dutch was instremental in the mitigation of the handlers condition then why was the dog shelved instead of on duty? Any dog that shows animal aggression is a poor candidate for service training and anyone who would certify a dog after such a short time of being involved in such an situation should be looked at very carefully.
For this simple bit of wisdom which asked only of the pro-Dutch mob on that Reddit page that it take a giant step back and re-think things a little, user "Audog" was labeled a "troll." That's how it is with these animal rights nutjobs: they're deaf to all reason. Their precious animals can do no wrong; and are basically furry and four-legged little people to them. When it comes to the pathology of seeing animals as being on-par with people, I don't even know where to begin.
But it's even worse with those who are into what they call "bully" type dogs -- pitbulls and others similar -- because such owners exhibit the double-whammy of not only the previous paragraph's kind of blindly irrational dog love, but they're also constantly on the defensive because one can hardly turn around anymore without reading an article or hearing a news report about some pitbull somewhere killing a child or mauling an adult. Some of them are even engaging in a conscious propaganda campaign, building pro-pitbull websites; and posting videos onto Youtube showing how harmless are their pitbulls as demonstrated by such as their allowing their infants to play with them, unabated. Conversely, if anyone deigns to post a video of a pitbull's real and typically-aggressive behavior, the pitbull apologists complain to Youtube that it's too violent, or violates someone's copyright or trademark, or somehow defames someone...
...all such complaints lies, of course; but all of them things which Youtube takes seriously, and so will likely result in the video showing the pitbulls' true aggressive nature being taken down, even if only for however long it takes for Youtube to investigate. If the video's owner doesn't know how to protest (and the pitbull apologists are counting on that they don't), then the video will likely stay down, investigation or not.
That's the kind of one-sided, lying, manipulative, half-truth-telling, you're-all-wrong-about-my-pitbull crap that "bully" dog owners pull. You should have seen all the vandalism of the Wikipedia article about pitbulls that there was for a while a few years back, until it finally got locked while it all calmed down. Pitbull owners were just going in and making stuff up! It was a mess; but a telling one.
In her "assumption of risk doctrine" versus "strict liability" comments regarding the controversial ruling in Tracey v. Solesky, 427 Md. 627, 50 A.3d 1075 (2012), Maryland attorney Jennifer Lubinski deftly wrote, in May of 2012:
I’ve seen a lot of people posting cute little photos of pit bulls since this decision came out, with snarky captions like, “Look how scary we are!” or “I Love My Pit Bull!” That’s nice. And I love dogs too [but h]ere’s the thing: pit bulls – and I know that’s not the correct breed name for this dog, but it’s the name we all use in discourse, so let’s be honest and not get bogged down in semantics – were bred, historically, for two things: fighting and small prey hunting. Yes, it is sad, but true, that these dogs have been genetically abused by humans for centuries. They have been selectively bred for genes that will make them powerful biters and aggressive fighters. And they are terriers. I own a terrier, albeit a Wheaten Terrier, whose most serious injuries inflicted have been, to date, oodles of dog goo following major face-licking episodes. But terriers are really smart. And they are really stubborn. They were bred to be that way, because they were bred to hunt small vermin on farms, and only a dog who could think for itself could be trusted to decide whether to pursue a rat down any particular hole. They don’t wait for instructions.
When you pair a certain stubbornness with intelligence and brute strength, you have the makings of a potential disaster. Which is why a 2000 study by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that roughly half of all dog-related fatalities involved either a pit bull or a Rottweiler.
...what we have seen, in this particular case, is a decision by the Court of Appeals that pit bulls are dangerous dogs, and that the people who own them must be held responsible for them.
Do I think we are on a slippery slope, one on which eventually all dogs will be considered potentially dangerous? No. Have you ever seen a Yorkie? (Honestly, I’d rather be bitten by a pit bull. I firmly believe that dogs should be dog-sized.) The fact that a toy breed might be prone to biting doesn’t make it dangerous if, realistically, the dog is too small to cause much harm. Nor is size the determining factor, although it is certainly one factor. The point is, when the Court of Appeals decided to apply strict liability to pit bulls, it made a policy determination based upon the breed’s history, size, temperament, and jaw strength. Like it or not, a pit bull is more likely to bite than a Bichon, and when it does, its jaw clamps down like a vise. There are anecdotes about pit bulls who simply WOULD NOT LET GO. So if you are going to voluntarily own such a dog, great, good for you: but be prepared to pay the medical bills if your dog bites somebody. That’s all this decision does. It holds you responsible for your decision to own a dog that can cause an enormous amount of hurt when it bites.
...if you are going to choose to own a dog as powerful as a pit bull, you’d better be prepared to pay for ... stitches and God knows what else [a victim's] going to wind up needing, because that is how responsibility works in society. Deal with that.
"A dog that can cause an enormous amount of hurt when it bites." Well said, Ms Lubinski; but that's only the half of it. There's also the animal's marginal propensity to bite -- nay, to attack -- and to be both relentless and merciless about it. Pitbull apologists toss around words like "provoked" or "provocation" to defend their dogs' malicious acts, but just as they (often intentionally) misinterpret criticism of them and their animals as an attack, and respond with outrageous and over-the-top adhominem and invective, pitbulls misinterpret the innocent acts of humans as potentially threatening and respond with attack because that's how they're wired; and no amount of wishing otherwise will change that.
As lawyers debate whether Tracey v. Solesky is too legally sweeping, the pitbull apologists would like us to forget the material facts of the case which caused its filing in the first place:
The present case involves an attack by a pit bull named Clifford. Notwithstanding his relatively benign name, Clifford possessed the aggressive and vicious characteristics of both Trouble and Rampage. He escaped twice from an obviously inadequate small pen (see footnote) and attacked at least two boys at different times on the same day. The pen was described as being 4 feet high with no overhanging ledge and an open area at the top. Clifford jumped out of the top of the pen - at least twice on the day of the attacks. In Matthews v. Amberwood, supra, at 563, we quoted language from the New Mexico case of Garcia v. Village of Tijeras, 108 N.M. 116, at 119-121, 767 P.2d355 (1988) that “. . . extraordinary measures are required for confining American Pit Bull Terriers, such as a six [emphasis added] foot chainlink fence with an overhanging ledge to keep the dogs from jumping out . . .”
After he attacked the first boy, the pit bull's (Clifford's) owner apparently restrained the dog and put him back in the pen he had just jumped out of, whereupon, in a short period of time the pit bull jumped out of the pen again and attacked the second boy, Dominic. The first boy attacked, Scotty Mason, was described after the attack on him as he appeared before his mother (an assistant States Attorney for Baltimore City) as:
"He was hysterical. He was bloody from about the chest area up. Hisface was covered in blood. He was crying. He didn’t look like Scotty. I thought he had been hit by a baseball bat. Well, he was unable to talk. He was so hysterical, but the two older boys told me he had been attacked by a dog, and I was frankly shocked."
The second young boy was Dominic Solesky. As a result of his mauling by Clifford, Dominic initially sustained life threatening injuries and underwent five hours of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to address his injuries, including surgery to repair his femoral artery.
He spent seventeen days in the hospital, during which time he underwent additional surgeries, and then spent a year in rehabilitation.
In Maryland the vicious mauling of young children by pit bulls occurred as early as 1916 in Bachman vs. Clark, 128 Md. 245; 97 A. 440 (1916). While there were prior dog bite cases, we believe that case was the first instance where the attacking dog is described as a bull terrier. In that case, a ten-year-old boy, John L. Clark, was playing on the north side of a street when a pit bull (“bull terrier”) came across the street from its owner’s property and attacked him, inflicting serious injuries. The pit bull refused to release the boy until a witness picked up a “scantling” (a small piece of timber such as a 2" by 4" or similar piece of framing, etc.) and struck the dog, killing it. Similar to the testimony in the present case by the boy’s mother, in that old case the mother described the aftermath of the attack on her child as follows:
"[H]e was unconscious, in such a condition that she did not know whether he was living or dead . . . Blood all over him."
Id. at 247, 97 A.2d at 440.
Over the last thirteen years, there have been no less than seven instances of serious maulings by pit bulls upon Maryland residents resulting in either serious injuries or death that have reached the appellate courts of this State, including the two boys attacked by the pit bull in the present case. In addition to the maulings in Maryland, there have been at least two instances of serious maulings by pit bulls that have reached the appellate courts of the District of Columbia, infra, since 2005. Accordingly, within a hundred mile radius there have been nine serious mauling appellate cases involving pit bulls within the last thirteen years. Five of the pit bull attacks in Maryland have been brought to the attention of this Court, and two have reached the Court of Special Appeals.
The Court then went on to cite:
Shields v. Wagman, et al, 350 Md. 666, 714 A.2d 881 (1998), where a pit bull attacked a business invitee at a strip shopping center and later attacked a tenant. Both attacks took place in the parking area of the strip-shopping center. In the first instance, Ms. Shields took her car to the parking area for repairs, and as she exited her car and approached the leased premises, the pit bull broke through the door and attacked her, inflicting serious injuries. In the second instance, the pit bull was not restrained and chased another tenant in the shopping center, Mr. Johnson, onto the roof of a car in the parking lot and attacked him, again inflicting serious injuries. The pit bull was owned by an automobile repair business tenant of the strip shopping center.
Matthews v. Amberwood Associates Limited Partnership, Inc., 351 Md. 544, 719 A.2d 119 (1998), wherein a pit bull attacked a child inside a tenant's apartment killing said child.
Moore v. et al., v. Myers, 161 Md. App. 349, 868 A.2d 954 (2005), wherein an unleashed and unrestrained pit bull chased a twelve year old girl into a street where she was run over by an automobile, suffering two broken arms, a broken leg, and a fractured jaw.
Ward v. Hartley, 168 Md. App. 209, 895 A. 2d 1111 (2006), wherein a taxi driver was dispatched to pick up a passenger at an apartment. When he knocked on the door he heard an adult voice inside telling what turned-out to be the boys behind the door to not open it. But one of them did, and a pitt bull came charging out as the same adult yelled "get the dog." The driver hit the pit bull with some rolled-up paper he had in his hand and the pit bull grabbed his foot. He then ran to his cab with the pit bull still holding onto his foot and, with the pit bull still attached, climbed on top of the car. A police car appeared on the scene, and as it did, two boys ran out of the house laughing and pulled the dog off of the cab-driver's foot. The cab driver's foot was severely injured and required surgery.
Note the boys' laughter, in the immediately-previous paragraph; something I call to your attention because it's just so typical of the attitude and behavior of so many pitbull owners who, in their twisted and pathological thinking, encourage and admire their dogs' aggressive acts, and just laugh off the dire consequences as nothing serious. In this particular instance, though, the boys' behavior was even more egregious because they had been warned to both not open the door, and to grab the dog once they had; neither of which adult admonition they heeded. Instead, they obviously intentionally dispatched the dog to attack the cab driver. Worse, they seemed to delight in what they had done, delaying coming to the cab driver's aid and taking control of their animal, and so doing only once police finally arrived, so they could enjoy watching their vicious pet of which they were so proud try to tear off the cab driver's foot. Only when police arrived did they realize that they would finally have to at least seem to care about the man, and call-off their dog. While so doing, though, they obviously couldn't hide their laughter and glee. As far as I'm concerned, the boys should have been arrested and prosecuted for criminal assuault with a deadly weapon.
It is that kind of pathology which motivates blind-to-the-facts pitbull owners and apologists to defend-at-all-costs their animals, no matter what they've done to humans. Invariably, they lie, like the Aguilars are lying about Dutch, claiming that their animals were somehow provoked, or that whomever was attacked was somehow threatening; and so the pitbull was just acting as would any other animal -- never mind that pretty much only pitbulls, among domesticated animals, tend to so behave -- under the same circumstances.
Last June 3, 2012, two-year-old toddler Keiron Guess could not possibly have been threatening to the pitbull that was notorious in its neighborhood for previous attacks, and which viciously attacked the child, pushing him to the ground and biting at his legs, face and the back of his head. Yes, the toddler wandered out of his own back yard and into the pitbull's when his mother looked away for just a moment; but could the child possibly have been threatening or provoking in any way to the animal? Or is the child's mere encroachment onto the pitbull's territory sufficient to warrant what would have been the child's death had he not been rescued?
It is believed to have been the dog's owner who eventually succeeded in lifting the child above his own head and onto his shoulders; yet, the pitbull just kept jumping at the boy, biting and biting him.
“The dog was ripping Keiron to pieces," said the toddler's grandfather of what he saw when he arrived on the scene. "He was a mess. I grabbed Keiron off him and ran back out into the alleyway” back to the child's home, where police and medical first responders were called.
“I saw Dad with Keiron cradled in his arms," said the child's father, "but it didn’t look like Keiron. I could see bubbles of red coming out of his face. His nose was gone. His face was ripped to shreds. It was like someone had used a sledgehammer. It was like a horror film.”
“All I could see was blood," said the child's mother. "I remember just collapsing. I thought Keiron was dead.”
By the time the child was loaded into a medical helicopter in a nearby park so that he could be airlifted to the specialist hospital where surgeons were being scrambled, first responders -- which included an on-call physician -- were doubting that he'd make it. The child's nose, a huge chunk from the back of his head, and the bones above and below one of his eyes were gone. His face was torn open and peeled back in several directions exposing muscle, teeth and bone; and a bystander who had found Keiron's ear was handing it to paramedics in a handkerchief.
When the child's maternal grandmother arrived at the scene, she found her daughter -- Keiron's mother -- on all-fours, throwing-up on the ground. When the family arrived at the hospital, more than a dozen doctors and nurses were working on him; and they were told to say their good-byes before he went into surgery because he'd likely not make it.
“They told us we had ten seconds to kiss him and say goodbye," said Keiron's mother. "I couldn’t kiss his face, it wasn’t there, so I kissed his stomach and told him, ‘Mummy loves you.’ The surgeon later told us Keiron had the worst facial injuries he had dealt with in his 30-year career.”
The first life-saving, and then initial reconstructive surgery, lasted over 10 hours. The child's face was preliminarily repaired and his nose partially reconstructed. His leg was so severely bitten that doctors first feared the dog’s teeth had fractured the bone; but that ended-up not being the case. The leg ended-up being in good enough condition to provide the skin graft to replace what the animal bit from the back of the child's head. Most of the rest of his ear was amputated. His parents were told it was likely Keiron would be blind -- that is, if he even survived, the chance of which was a mere "50/50" -- as he was taken to intensive care, where he was put on a respirator and into a medically-induced coma to give him a better chance at recovery.
“His face was like a balloon," his mother said. "On his head were staples everywhere. I didn’t recognize him.”
About a week later, Keiron was awakened. “That was the best moment of my life," said the child's father. "We weren’t sure how much he would be able to see until my dad visited and Kieron shouted out, ‘Grampie!’. At least he had some vision. It was a relief.”
The toddler endured several more surgeries, and spent most of the rest of the month of June in the hospital before finally being released. While he was in the hospital, authorities secured the dog owner's permission to destroy the animal, which happened before Keiron was even awakened from his coma. The dog owner's adult son, though, angrily confronted Keiron's grandfather, blaming the child, in effect, for both what happened to him, and for the dog's demise.
A photo was taken of Keiron just days after he finally returned home. Given the severity of his injuries, it's a testament to the skill of the surgeons. “You don’t see a child looking like Keiron because they don’t normally survive an attack like that," said his mother.
Keiron and his brother Mackenzie were too traumatised to go home, so the family moved in relatives while they look for another place to live.
“Keiron’s on the road to recovery but he’s changed," his mother said. He used to be happy and smiley, now he has terrible nightmares. He saw a dog the other day and was petrified and said, ‘Dog bite, dog bite!’.”
Pitbull apologists are in denial... or worse. Their animals may be calm most of the time, but they're on a hair trigger; and because most of them are both inordinately strong for their size, and also have tremendous both biting and holding power, people like Keiron end-up getting very seriously injured and even killed by them every year. Worse, that's all perfectly sociopathically okay with such dangerous dog owners, who always insist that their precious pet was provoked... as if that, somehow, granted it the right to maul or kill a human. Pitbull apologists will, in Keiron's case, for example, focus on that he wandered into the dog's territory, and so, then, for them, that makes what the dog did to the toddler perfectly reasonable... expected... acceptable. Certainly the dog owner's adult son thought so. The dog, they'll say, has rights, too.
But that's the part that they just don't get: these are dogs, we're talking about, here. Animals, not humans; and humans trump animals, always. They have no rights... not any, at least, which trump a human's rights. Dogs are nothing but domesticated wolves, albeit many thousands of years removed from the larger and more vicious wolves of our early human ancestry. They are, nevertheless, the result of many millennia of conditioning and breeding to get the prehistoric wolf danger out of them. But even the wolves who were domesticated dogs' forerunners were smart enough to figure out what our cave-dwelling human ancestors wanted of them so they'd get fed. That adaptability, over the millennia, has helped dogs to learn to read human expressions almost as well as humans; and they live, now, to make us happy; to behave in the cute ways that they've been conditioned to tell we want them to behave. And stupid humans who don't understand that that's all that's going on chalk it up to human-like intelligence and cognitive powers on the part of the dog... hence the reason they personify the animals, and start thinking they're on-par with humans, and so it's okay if a dog attacks a human, as long as it was provoked.
It is not. They simply will not grasp that even if the dog is provoked or even attacked, it's not okay. If we wanted to live with that kind of danger from the pack animals surrounding our campfires, then we'd have left the version of wolf that existed alongside early humans well-enough alone. Yes, in time, even they became relatively tame; however, like a pitbull, they, too, were on a hair trigger, and had both the size and strength to kill humans... and the fossil record shows that they sometimes did. That's why humans bred it out of 'em; and so the pitbull apologists now trying to bring back that kind of aggression -- and, trust me, they are -- is counter to literally thousands of years of work by humans to make the dogs in our lives safe to be around... yes, even if they're provoked.
Biting, attacking dogs -- regardless of breed or even provocation -- have no place in human society and culture. They need to be culled from the herd so that Darwinian rules of evolutionary breeding may help keep domesticated animals calm and subservient to humans -- which dogs always need to see as categorically alpha -- for everyone's safety. The "bully" dog apologists, though, would have everyone believe that those who own or have anything to do with dogs should expect to be bitten, or even attacked, every now and then; that it's normal... par for the course. Worse -- and this, to me is the really scary and anti-social part -- they elevate the dog to human status in terms of rights, responsibilities and consequences. It's just ridiculous; and it spawns outrageousness.
"It's the woman who was bitten who needs to be euthanized," some of the signers of the "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition, and posters on the "Save Dutch" Facebook page have written, and far worse. Res ipsa loquitur. And to think: these nutty people are allowed on juries. Oy.
It's all, in any case, just a big con job! The "bully" dog apologists are pulling the wool over America's eyes, and undiscerning America's letting them. Such has been the case with Dutch, this week.
About Dutch and his breed
Dutch is a "bully" type dog, though a relatively rare one because he's of a technically now-extinct breed called the "American Allaunt," which isn't an official AKC breed. Allaunts are large and muscular, with emphasis on both those words. At the shoulder, an Allaunt can stand from 24 to 30 inches... quite tall for a "bully" breed; and they can weigh 100 to 150 pounds... sometimes, but rarely, more. One fellow who claims to know the parties in this case, and to whose answers to specific questions on Reddit the Dog Heirs article referred readers, claims that Dutch is at the larger end of that scale, standing ever bit of 29 inches to 30 inches at the shoulder, and weighing perhaps as much as 200 pounds.
Personally, I think he's exaggerating, but who knows. Based on the breed's standards, it seems statistically unlikely to me that Dutch is quite that large. It's statistically more likely that he's 29 or 30 inches at the shoulder, and around 150 to maybe 170 pounds. But even then, his sheer size and strength are considerable; and they play an important role in this case, so please keep them in mind. He's very large, and very strong. That's the bottom line. Imagine any pitbull you've ever seen -- even the largest of them (assuming it's not an Allaunt) -- and then doube, triple or maybe even quadruple its height and weight in your mind: that's Dutch: Very large. Very strong. Very capable of killing a human.
Allaunts have a broad head, muscular jaws and a large muzzle. The body is longer than tall, with thick bones and straight legs. The chest is very wide with a more narrow stomach and hips. The coat is short and thick, colored variously in solid or brindle, merle or spotted black, gray, white, cream, brown or tan. It requires relatively little grooming, and has very few known health issues.
American Allaunts are also very agile, fast and have good stamina. Originally bred for guarding and hunting, the Allaunt is particularly good at capturing and then holding -- with emphasis on holding -- its prey. It's very energetic and usually needs to be taken on a minimum of two good, long walks a day; plus it's happiest when it has some kind of decent-sized back yard in which to roam and explore and get a little additional exercise. That said, as long as it gets those two daily walks, an Allaunt may happily live indoors with the family...
...speaking of which: The Allaunt is surprisingly calm and well-mannered for its size and imposing, seemingly-aggressive appearance. Very intelligent and trainable, the Allaunt does surprisingly well with children, and tends to never show any signs of aggression toward family members, over whom it can be very protective. However, even strangers can do quite well with the Allaunt, as long as the animal has been well-socialized during its upbringing. It does better with strangers, though, when it meets them away from its home territory, over which the Allaunt can also be very protective. That's, in part, why it makes such an excellent watchdog.
Regarding that: The Allaunt can be a little bit barky when it kicks into "guard" mode and hears or sees something out of the ordinary, but it's a generally quiet dog which neighbors tend not to mind having around. I was a neighbor to one once; and I made sure to reach over the fence when he was a pup and pet him and make kissing sounds and love him up so that when he was finally big enough to kill me (and he eventually was), he wouldn't. He was a big and imposing dog, but as nearly as I could tell, a real sweetheart... at least to me. Sadly, I fear that that was his ultimate undoing. I had, for years, parked my car on the street near the corner of his yard, and whenever he'd see me, he run to the corner, put his paws up on the top of the just-over-four-foot chainlink fence, and we'd greet one another. He'd wag his tail so hard his whole body shook, and I unhesitatingly petting him everywhere and let him lick my face...
...until one day when his owner was outside and saw it all for the first time. I could tell that he was outraged; that the dog he had thought was such a good watchdog, and was so imposing, and had maybe even had some aggressiveness training, was, at least to me, a little sweetheart. The man called the dog, sternly. Until that moment, I didn't even know the dog's name. The animal cowered as he slinked back to his owner who yelled for him to get in the house. Then the man glared at me for a moment and went inside, too. I never saw or heard that dog again. Ever. About a month later, the fence came down; and about six months later, the house was empty and had a for-sale sign in front of it. I'm not saying he left because of me and the dog thing; he had been prepping the place for sale for almost a year. I'm simply saying that I never saw the dog again after that day; and when the fence came down so soon after the incident, yet months before he finally left... well... do the math. It was about 9 months after that before the for-sale sign came down and there was a new neighbor... who has a little yappy mutt. I've always wondered what happend to that Allaunt who had obviously so disappointed his master because, I'm guessing, he wasn't mean enough. That's the sad reality of most "bully" dog owners: They like the animals because they're dangerous... to everyone, that is, but them. They'll deny it, of course, but that's what truly gets their rocks off. It's often more than just the dog, then, that's a bully.
My neighbor, though, had probably chosen the wrong breed. Being generally nice, absent aggressiveness training, is kinda' the thing that weighs in the Allaunt's favor. It's not nearly as naturally testy and quick-to-aggression as most "bully" breeds. It mostly only looks imposing and potentially aggressive. I'll give the breed that. Assuming it has never been encouraged to be aggressive, and it has not grown-up in an environment where it has to compete with other dogs for food and attention; and assuming it has been well-socialized to humans, the Allaunt is generally quite even-tempered and may even go its entire life without so much as growling at anyone. It is, then, among the more better-natured and compatible-with-humans of the "bully" dogs. That, I must concede.
That said, even the calmest of Allaunts age, and with age can come aggrression. They can also have their aggression, at any age, triggered by the presence of another dog which is behaving aggressively. Unlike many other "bully" breeds, Allaunts have been known to react quite well to the presence of other dogs, as long as they're acting friendly and merely inquisitive. However, if the Allaunt encounters another a member of another "bully" breed that's known for its aggression, and is expressing it, then the Allaunt's aggression will come out. And the problem is that, as with all "bully" type dogs, it can happen in an instant, with no warning, and for seemingly no reason which the humans around it may easily discern. Yes, of course, there's always a reason, but it could be something that only a dog would care or worry about, and so the humans around him end-up being taken by surprise by the sudden aggression. Sadly, we're not talking about a Chihuahua becoming suddenly aggressive, here. Rather, we're talking about an animal that's easily as strong as a human, and has, at around 400 pounds per square inch, the biting and holding power of a Great White shark. No, seriously. The same as a Great White Shark.
When something like that gets suddenly upset, people and animals can get seriously hurt. That's what happened with Dutch, last November.
Service dog, schmervice dog: It's a lie, by any standard
Jeremy Aguilar and his wife Heather are, technically, by the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition, homeless because they have their names on no lease or mortgage anywhere. In fact, they have no permanent residence. Instead, they live in either Colorado or Oklahoma, with either friends or relatives, depending on in which place they happen to find themselves at any given moment. One could argue, then, that they have no business trying to own and properly care for an animal of Dutch's size, strength and daily requirements since they can't even provide a permanent home or territory for him; and territoriality is one of the Allaunt's biggest things in life.
Dutch was originally acquired as a puppy four years ago by Jeremy Aguilar's older brother and his common-law wife, the latter of whom is the victim in this case. After a year they realized that they simply could not properly take care of such a large and powerful "bully" type dog, and so they offered it to Jeremy and his then-new bride, Heather. Dutch began his life as their new pet at the age of one year; and they've raised and cared for him for the past three years... the entire time they've been married. Dutch is now four. Allaunts typically live to the age of 10 or 12, so he's considered to be somewhere in his 30s in human years.
Indeed, Jeremy Aguilar is an Army veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq; and he, indeed, responded as part of the National Guard to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He's also, technically, fully disabled on account of his service, though one can't tell by just looking at him. However -- and this is critically important to understand -- he has never required a service dog to accommodate his disability; and, most importantly, Dutch, for the entire three years prior to the incident that the Aguilars owned him, was never Aguilar's "service dog." He was just a pet. The whole service dog ruse came later, after Aguilar was cited by the city under the vicious animals ordinance because of the biting incident last November. At the time, Aguilar learned that there was a possibility the dog could be euthanized on account of the incident; and Aguilar heard that if Dutch were a service dog, then he might enjoy certain protections from euthanization. So, Aguilar fled the state of Colorado with the animal, and put it through "service dog" training; all of which training has occurred between last November and today. That's why there are so many photos and short video clips of Dutch in his red "service dog" vest at the mall, reacting well to the public. Aguilar was building his case for both that Dutch really is a service dog, as well as to show how well Dutch does with people in a confusing public place like a mall.
So then, to be clear: It was not that Aguilar needed a service dog; or that Dutch is or has ever been his service dog. That's just a big lie. Rather, making Dutch into some kind of "service dog," at least on paper, was a mere contrivance by Aguilar which he did for the entirely self-serving reason of possibly staving-off the animal's eventual euthanization. While it's entirely possible that a real service dog might enjoy certain protections, Dutch isn't a real service dog. That's the other lie. All Aguilar did was hook-up with an obviously ethically-challenged alleged "trainer" who was willing to say that Dutch had been through at least some kind of so-called "service dog" training; and then Aguilar simply bought Dutch a service dog vest from one of a number of unethical websites which claim that because of the way the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is worded, any dog can be a "service dog," regardless of training; and that all one needs is the little "service dog" vest and trumped-up ID from godawful places like this or this; or this one that's mentioned in the embedded video, below. Then Aguilar simply walked Dutch around the mall and got lots of pictures and video clips... again, just making a case for the judge.
Every single legitimate and reputable person involved with service, assistance or therapy dog training will attest that it is categorically impossible to train a "service dog" in only two months; and two months or less of alleged "service dog" training, if any, is all that Dutch has ever gotten. By any recognized and legitimate service, assistance or therapy dog standard, from those of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), to Assistance Dogs International (ADI), to The Delta Society, to Guide Dogs for the Blind (the one that Betty White promotes), to Dogs for the Deaf, to Dogs4Diabetics, to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), and many more, it takes closer to two years; and can cost $20,000 or more to convert not just any ol' dog, but, rather, specially hand-picked and assessed dogs from pet quality to true, working service dog quality. There are, in fact, only around 20,000 legitimate service dogs in the entire United States; and only around 2,500 per year are graduated from all legitimate service dog schools, nationally, combined... at most of which schools there's a typical three-year waiting list.
Moreover, after the March 2011 US Department of Justice revision of its "service animal" definition and standards, even the normally loosey-goosey Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards now require that the alleged "service dog" must, after training, be extraordinarily well-behaved and virtually oblivious to other dogs and people in public places such that they are not in the slightest bit disruptive; and they must be able to perform identifiable tasks specific to whatever is the verifiable disability of their owners. I've even interviewed people who "owner-trained" their own serivce dogs because they just couldn't afford the $20,000 or more to do it through one of the certification organizations (which "owner training" the ADA allows); however, to the last of them they have real and provable disabilities, and real standards (in many cases, the IAADP standards) to which they trained their dogs, which training, just the same as the formal and expensive organizational training, took approximately two years to complete. There is and can be no short-cutting of it, then. It takes how long it takes -- typically two long years -- and so it simply cannot be done in only two months, as Aguilar would have the public believe.
The problem of dog owners just pretending that their mere pet dogs are actually "service dogs," just so they can take them into public places where they don't really belong, is becoming huge in the United States. Real and legitimate service dog owners are seeing it more and more, and are outraged by it. They can usually spot a fake service dog in public places in quite literally seconds, usually because of the fake service dog's bad behavior ranging from pulling on the lead, to not sitting attentively when at the ready, to sniffing everything and everyone they see, to reacting badly to real service dogs, to lifting a leg on whatever they want, to barking or growling or even biting... every single one of which behaviors any business may legally cite, under ADA, as sufficient reason to eject the dog and its owner from the premises for being disruptive. However, so many businesses owners don't really know the law, and are deathly afraid of being sued in any case, that they just allow anyone who claims that his/her dog is a "service dog" to enter the premises, and do whatever they want. It's shameful, and needs to stop.
To real and legitimate service dog owners, people like Aguilar are called "vesters," because they just purchase a "service dog" vest online, put it on their untrained pet dogs, and then try to pull the wool over business owners' and the public's eyes by using the ambiguity of the ADA to fraudulently sneak their just-plain-pet dogs into public places alongside real service dogs.
In her piece entitled "Fake 'service dog' vests a growing trend," ABC's Denver, Colorado affiliate, KMGH, 7NewsDenver's Jaclyn Allen reports, in July 2012, on the growing problem of dog owners purchasing fake "service dog" vests online, and then using them to obtain fraudulent access for their mere pets to public places where only legitimately-trained service dogs belong.
The whole AKC "Canine Good Citizen" (CGC) thing was similarly nefariously motivated; and it was actually that training, for the most part, which Aguilar is trying to foist off on the public as Dutch's alleged "service dog" training. It is not; not even close. Aguilar's lies should be causing him to smell smoke from his pants afire, by now.
It's an "all thumbs are fingers, but all fingers aren't thumbs" sort of thing in the sense that all service dogs must pass the CGC, but passing the CGC does not a service dog make. At most of the truly legitimate and reputable service dog training centers, passing the CGC simply allows the animal to be considered -- merely assessed -- for only potential service dog suitability. Passing the CGC, by no stretch of the imagination, means automatic entry into legitimate service dog training. Rather, a very short period (it can be done in a single session) of behavioral testing, such as what animal shelters do to determine if a dog is potentially suitable for adoption; followed by many sessions, over time, of temperament assessment, along with passing the CGC, is required before any animal may even be considered for entry into legitimate service dog training. And many -- most, in fact -- don't make the cut.
What Aguilar got for Dutch was a mere behavioral assessment. Speaking of which: Similarly nefariously motivated, also, has been Aguilar's careful cultivation of relationships with allegedly "well-known and qualified" so-called trainers and CGC certifiers, simply so that he could obtain their attestations to Dutch's alleged lack of aggression. It was all just to build a case for the judge... a rehabilitation case which the judge specifically said he would not allow as an alternative to euthanization. Moreover, that Aguilar thinks the judge is that stupid speaks volumes. People of Aguilar's ilk are always that way. They think they can pull a fast one; and that everyone's stupid but them, and so won't notice. It insults everyone's intelligence, and is a testament to such as Aguilar's lack of same. The bottom line truth is that no reputable temperament assessor would have cleared Dutch for entry into legitimate "service dog" training once s/he learned of Dutch's attack on the woman. Dogs with a history of aggression -- especially of the kind Dutch exhibited -- are never allowed, for the entirety of their lives, anywhere near legitimate service dog training.
What's so surprising, though, is the blind followers and Dutch's supporters and apologists who seem not to require any integrity at all from the Aguilars; and who are apparently okay with all nefarious on the Aguilars' part which this article reveals. Not even facts, and the primacy of human life over canine life, whenever there's a choice to be made, as in this case, is enough to shake them from their insensibility. It's astonishing, actually. Frightening, frankly.
What really happened that day
Last November 14, 2012, Jeremy and Heather Aguilar needed to be away for several hours, and so they asked Jeremy's older brother's common law wife -- Dutch's former co-owner -- if she would watch the dog for a while. No one expected there would be any problems, especially because the woman had raised Dutch for the first entire year of his life. However, at some point in the day the woman heard Dutch fighting, outside, with another dog: one of her dogs, also a "bully" type breed, though not an Allaunt, like Dutch. As earlier herein described, the Allaunt is normally quite tolerant of other dogs, but its aggression can come out if it is confronted by another "bully" type dog that's exhibiting its own aggression. It's unknown which animal "started it," but according to the woman, Dutch was the aggressor. Of course, because he is larger, and it was one of her smaller pitbull dogs that was on the receiving end of Dutch's obviously greater size and strength, it might only have seemed to her that Dutch was the aggressor. Who knows: there were no other witnesses. All we know, for sure, is that they were fighting; and since fights between "bully" breeds often result in the death or serious injury of one or another (or even both) of the participants, she knew she needed to break it up... and fast.
In an attempt to discredit the woman, posters on the Save Dutch Facebook page repeatedly cite that she allowed the two dogs to be alone together as part of her lack of responsibility, in support of the nonsensical notion that she somehow brought it all on herself. What they're forgetting is that Dutch and the little pitbull already knew one another; had spent no small amount of time together; and had never exhibited aggression toward one another. The woman's actions, then, were anything but irresponsible. She reasonably expected that they'd get along as they always had. Sadly, this time, they didn't, which was in no way foreseeable, given the animals' history.
The woman repeatedly struck Dutch first with her hands in an unsuccessful attempt to free the pitbull from his huge jaws, to no avail. She then picked-up a light-weight metal tiki torch pole and tried to get Dutch's attention by hitting him with it. Unfortunately, it was so light-weight that it immediately bent over Dutch's muscular body and hard-as-rock skull; and so she threw it to the ground. She was eventually able to get Dutch away from the pitbull using firm commands and tugging on his collar. People commenting on the Save Dutch Facebook page use what they insist is the unlikelihood of her being able to do that (because, of course, they know that most "bully" breeds never let go; though they fail to see how that helps to make the very point that I've been making, here, about pitbulls) as evidence, in their minds, that she's lying about the whole ordeal. However, they're forgetting that one of the things that makes domesticated animals domesticated is that they now have that humans are inherently alpha wired right into their DNA. Couple that with that the woman was once Dutch's mistress; and also that Dutch's breed is one of the less nutty and blindly aggressive of the "bully" breeds, and it suddenly becomes more than plausible that she was able to sufficiently momentarily distract Dutch that he released the pitbull and allowed her to pull him by the collar into the house. And that's what she did, though not before Dutch got in one last lick by biting the smaller pitbull's leg.
Once inside, the woman released Dutch and began trying to calm him down. While cleaning the blood from his face, Dutch suddenly bit the woman in her thigh, puncturing all the way to the bone. This is not terribly surprising. Dutch, by that time, was all worked-up, adrenaline pumping through his veins; and he was not being comforted by what he now considered to be his owners. In fact, though the woman touching him was once his owner, she was also the very same person who had just hit him outside. To him, she might have seemed part of the problem... especially considering that her cleaning of the blood from his injured face might have been hurting him a little. Dogs, remember, are just dogs. They don't reason like humans, and have no way of determining intent and might well misinterpret, especially if in an excited state.
In the aftermath of the biting attack, Heather Aguilar, who is known to not get along well with the biting victim, cited that the photos of the victim's bite marks showed no tearing and required no stiches... as if puncturing to the bone, alone, weren't good enough. Allaunts are notorious biters and holders, not tearers and shakers. And so it makes sense that only puncture wounds appeared in the photos. But puncture wounds, any physician will attest, can be far worse than tearing and bleeding ones because whatever made the punctures act almost as innoculations, injecting bacteria and whatever else deep into the wound with little subsequent bleeding to help said bacteria escape. Such is but one example, then, of the kind of manipulative spin the Aguilars have tried to put on this incident.
Through hitting, prying and firm commands, the woman somehow coaxed Dutch to release his vice-like grip on her thigh, and then she attempted to flee the animal by running to the bedroom... no doubt triggering Dutch's natural hunting and chasing instincts. However, in her excitement and panic, she fell to the floor, and Dutch pounced on her, as if she were prey, this time sinking his teeth their full length, plus whatever clamping and squeezing his powerful jaws could achieve, into her buttock, again to the bone. Before moving on to what she did next, it's worth considering the sheer and abject terror this woman must have been feeling at that moment. No one who knew Dutch didn't realize that an animal of his size, strength and tremendous biting and holding capability could easily kill any human; and that certainly any human of the female type would be no match for him if he decided to end her. That's, in part, why the woman got rid of Dutch in the first place! As this woman felt the dog's 150 or more pounds bearing down on her, and his teeth once again violating her body to the bone, it simply doesn't seem possible that she did not fear for her very life. I know I would have been so fearing, and I'll bet I outweigh her, and can outmatch her strength, by a factor of at least two.
Dutch's supporters and apologists never mention that part. They never stop to consider what this moment must have been like for the woman. "Bully" dog zealot apologists never do. They refuse to acknowledge how easily that small moment when the woman fell could have ended in her demise -- and that she knew it -- when, instead, they should be thinking "Cujo." Their reaction, via the aforementioned question answerer on Reddit, is to characterize her as a kind of Jersey Shore low-life. And who knows, maybe she is. Quite frankly, the whole bunch of 'em sound a little like trailer trash to me, but that makes no difference in any of this. That the woman feared for her very life at the mercy of a creature whom she knew could kill her -- and seemed to be trying to -- is all that matters.
In the process of again hitting and commanding Dutch, and trying to get him to release his death grip on her body, he bit the woman's hand, severing an artery and causing a compound fracture to her middle finger. In yet another attempt to discredit the victim, ignorant posters on the Save Dutch Facebook page wrote that it must all be a lie because there are no arteries in the middle finger. Au contraire, un ignorante! The ulnar and radial arteries carry blood down through the forearm into the wrist, where they anastomose (join together) to form arches; these arches, along with several branches, supply blood to the hand and digits. The Superficial palmar arch is formed by the ulnar artery anastomosing with a superficial branch of the radial artery, and runs in front of the flexor tendons near the middle of the metacarpal bones. The Common palmar digitals are arterial branches which leave the superficial palmar arch to run along the lumbricals to the webbing of the fingers; and the proper palmar digital arterial branches start from the common palmar digitals and run along the sides of the fingers, but not the thumb. Assuming that the victim's artery that Dutch broke was actually in the finger that he broke, then it was either one of her common palmar digitals, or one of her proper palmar digitals... likely the latter. For our purposes, here, we're only worried about the middle finger, so I'll not get into the arterial Princeps pollicis, or the Radialis indicis, which supply blood to the thumb and index finger, respectively.
The idiot who insisted that the middle finger has no arteries walked right into that one. One of the things that social networking and comments beneath articles help show is just how ignorant and awful people can be. And thank goodness for it, I say! Without it, it would be much more difficult to figure out whom to ignore.
And let's be crystal clear, here, for the benefit of those who've forgotten their first aid, what is a compound fracture: That's the one where the bone is completely broken into two separate pieces, not merely cracked, like most fractures; and the part that makes it "compound" is that at least one of said two pieces is sticking up and through the skin into the open air. Imagine how strong Dutch's bite needs to be in order to cause something like that. Human bones are very tough. It takes many hundreds of pounds per square inch of biting pressure to completely sever a human bone in a single chomp. Who, then, could deny that this woman was in certain fear for her very life? Why, Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists, of course! That's who!
The woman then broke free of the animal, and finally made it into the bedroom, whereupon she slammed shut the door before he could follow her in. Dutch continued to try to get at her, though. She told police and the animal control officer that he flung his body against the door. However, that description conjures an image of dog behavior that's inconsistent with reality; and so Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists seized on that seeming discrepancy, too, and have made hay of it to further attempt to discredit the woman. What, in fact, happened, was that Dutch simply barked and scratched at the door, like any other dog; only unlike any other dog, his motives in trying to get at and harm her were the epitome of aggression. To her, on the other side of said door, it only seemed as though he was throwing his body against it because he's so big and heavy that with every lunge and placing of his front feet on the door, it shook and rattled, straining against the lock in its fame. She could also hear him working-out his aggression by destroying furniture and other items in the living room. To her, it must have seemed like... well... again, think "Cujo."
Another thing about which Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists have made hay is that the woman didn't call police or an ambulance; that, instead, she called her common-law husband who then came to her rescue. She claimed that the reason she called him first was because she didn't want any first responders to be attacked by Cuj... er... I mean Dutch, like she was. Her detractors say that makes no sense, but it actually makes all the sense in the world. She knew that her husband could handle Dutch, and that if she was going to avoid police likely shooting the animal upon their arrival, her husband's controlling presence with the animal would be necessary before anyone else could enter the house. That's how out of control was this dog, and how dangerous. It also speaks volumes about the woman's caring for Dutch, despite what he had just done to her. The apologists, though, can't acknowledge any of that, else their whole side of the debate falls sorrowfully apart.
The woman's husband arrived with another man, and they entered the home. Dutch was sitting in the middle of the living room, seemingly calmer; and the woman remained in the bedroom, behind the closed and locked door. The two men, however, were not careful when they opened the door to the house, and so the pitbull outside came rushing in, thereby causing the fight between him and Dutch to resume in earnest... this time, indoors. Dutch, now, was fully excited and very aggressive. His adrenaline had likely begun to subside, and now he was getting a second jolt of it... which never goes well. The two men, with all their strength and firm commands and tugging could not separate the animals; so the second man picked-up a board from a picture frame that Dutch had destroyed during his living room tantrum, and began beating the dog about his face with it to try to get him to release the smaller pitbull. Eventually, Dutch did, but only after his face got fairly well beaten-up. Once the two dogs were, again, separated, and the pitbull returned to the outdoors, the husband succeeded in calming Dutch enough that he could hand him off to the other man and enter the bedroom to tend to his wife. Police and an ambulance were then summoned for the woman.
Police and the animal control officer did a full forensic investigation, collecting evidence, taking photos, and getting witness statements. The case was then referred to the City Attorney's office to determine if the elements of the city's vicious animal ordinance had been met. He determined that they had, and so proceeded with the lawful prosecution of Jeremy Aguilar, including seeking that Dutch be destroyed by court order, pursuant both to Animal Control's recommendation, and the victim's wishes.
The woman's injuries were no small thing: deep biting puncture wounds invading her body on her thigh and buttock; and the broken artery and compound middle finger fracture. Her hospital bill totaled over $24,000; which, of course, the cynical ignorant on the Save Dutch Facbook page insisted was her sole motivation for pushing the matter: so she could be compensated and get that $24,000 covered. Never mind that this isn't a civil case of hers against Aguilar for damages; rather, it's criminal case, and so no compensation to her -- other than perhaps some small amount of restitution -- was likely headed her way, and she knew it. So, again with Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists ignorantly trying to discredit her.
No value, however, can be placed on the abject terror and legitimate fear for her very life that she felt; and for that, she should sue!
Not surprisingly, Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists, like the sociopaths they truly are, put no value on that. Their utter disregard for the woman victim of Dutch's vicious attack is shameful, indeed. Instead of trying to see things from her perspective, they continue to insist that she was at fault; that she was abusing Dutch; and that he would never have attacked had he not been provoked by her. In fact, they refuse to even use the word "attack," characterizing what Dutch did, instead, as his having merely bitten her. In fact, they are using, as a diversion from the matter of the victim's injuries, a description of Dutch's injuries, as if there were any comparison with those of a human.
That, again, is what these nutjob zealots do: they elevate an animal and whatever they perceive to be its "rights" to the same level as a human and his/her actual rights which trump any animal's every single time. What they just refuse to understand is that even if the woman really were abusing Dutch, there is still no such thing as the "provocation" defense for justifying an animal attacking and seriously injuring a human. Period. Even the aggressive prehistoric wolf forerunners of domesticated dogs that lurked around the edges of the campfires of early humans seeking handouts of food understood that. Hierarchy is the very last thing that a dog like Dutch -- a pack animal descended from a species for which hierarchy means everything -- would not understand. The only reason, in fact, that the woman was able to control Dutch at all was because his domestication made him naturally understand his place in the pecking order; and that humans are always alpha. The only reason he released his grip is because for those instants, her firm commands that he so do were momentarily overriding his excited and adrenaline-charged aggression. Even an aggressive dog in that state will err on the side of compliance with an alpha being because in wolf culture, failure to so do usually means certain and immediate death. That's hard-wired into Dutch's DNA, too.
About it all, Mike Duncan, the city's Animal Services Supervisor, said:
I have been in this job for 15 years because I love to care for animals and protect them, but my job also includes protecting the public, and I also take that part of my job very seriously.
In any vicious animal case, our primary concern is for the safety of anyone who may come in contact with the animal in the future. This is the worst incident of an animal attack that I have seen. In the dozens of vicious animal cases I’ve investigated, I have never seen a case where the animal was as aggressive in pursuing the victim multiple times.
Rehabilitation of the dog is one of the options in this case. The challenge is to try to predict how an animal will behave in the future, when it has already shown that it is capable of inflicting a vicious attack. It is easy to say that a dog won’t attack again. But if it does, the results, especially with a dog of this size, could be very serious, even life-threatening.
And so that's the reason his department recommended to the Court that Dutch be euthanized; because humans trump animals, and this animal's attack was the worst he'd ever seen (again, think "Cujo"); and because prior acts are, especially with animals, the best predictor of future ones.
The problem of zealots and their trouble with reality
Dutch's apologists insist that he's now a "service dog." I'll forgo the impulse to blurt out a disbelieving "ha!" Moreover, one of the areas of service for which they now insist he's qualified is visiting elderly people in nursing homes and other similar facilities. Imagine your grandma sitting in her wheelchair in the home, being nuzzled about her fragile neck by a 150-pound "bully" type dog like Dutch who has now proved himself capable of the kind of relentless attack that severed a human finger bone in a single bite. The AKC-approved trainers/certifiers who qualified Dutch as a service dog should not have so done... especially so soon after he had shown such aggression; and I posit that if the AKC fully understood it, it might revoke their approvals. That's certainly what I'm going to suggest to the AKC.
Moreover, though, those who proffer Dutch as a service dog, along with those who certified him as such, are, because of this incident, but a life-changing lawsuit away from losing everything! If my elderly mother were in a nursing home and were visited by Dutch, I would, upon learning how dangerous he has shown himself to be, and the danger, then, to which they exposed her with full knowledge of it, want to sue the lot of them, including the nursing home, for everything they have, and more. By the time I finished with them, I'd want to own their houses, their cars, their Weber kettles, their retirements and the kids' college money. There'd be a brick on their paychecks, if I had my way, until they, themselves, were in nursing homes. Anyone who now puts forth Dutch as a service dog, given what he has done, is just begging to be sued into oblivion. No decent lawyer for any decent nursing home or assisted living facility would allow Dutch anywhere near the place! And that's as it should be. Moreover, even if Aguilar were somehow able to keep Dutch, and if he then put the dog's "service" training to use, but without first warning people what Dutch once did, then that, in my opinion, would be a criminal act of the same sort as someone with HIV failing to fully advise his/her sexual partner of it... even if protection is used!
Wildlife experts, including park rangers, will attest that once most animals have attacked humans and have drawn and tasted their blood, and lived to tell about it, they're very dangerous, indeed. No matter what Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists claim, he will be less hesitant, now, to attack a human in the future. And contrary to the insensible personification that apologists use to attribute to Dutch rationality and reasoned restraint which he, as an animal, simply doesn't have, what could suddenly trigger him could be something as simple as a sound or a smell or a combination of them. If, for example, some elderly person in a home just happens to be wearing the same cologne as the woman whom Dutch attacked, and if while he's visiting her there's a startling noise down the hall, or the sound of a distant dog barking which makes him even only momentarily fearful, or reminds him of the little pitbull who kept after him that day, he could be triggered to take the person nearest him by the neck, bite down with his immense 400 psi of jaw strength to the full depth of his teeth and beyond, and then hold on and not let go, as is his nature whenever he bites.
Dogs, the apologists just don't get, don't think like people. They're not similarly motivated, reasoned or rational. It only seems so because through thousands of years of domestication, dogs have mastered how to seem to humans as if they're almost human, themselves. Yes, I do not deny that they're probably smarter than they've always been given credit for; and that there seems, indeed, a beautiful little sould somewhere in there behind those eyes. I get that. I'm not an idiot. Dogs, though, in the end, are instinctive creatures -- something humans have trouble understanding because they're not -- just like any other non-human animal. They don't think things through like humans; they don't reason like humans; they don't have a human-like value system or conscience; and they can't stop themselves from reacting pursuant to what's in their very DNA, given the right circumstances.
I'm sorry, but Animal Control was right to ask the Court to destroy the animal; and the Court was right to order it. Let us now see, on Thursday, if Jeremy Aguilar is really the law-abiding citizen he paints himself to be and surrenders Dutch, as the Court ordered him to do. If he doesn't, then he both needs to go to jail, and also pay the $1,000 fine, plus the full $24,000 of restitution to the victim; and then the dog needs to be hunted down and found, wherever he is, and destroyed on the spot.
Or, if Dutch is allowed to live, then he needs to be taken from the Aguilars and given to an animal rescue that specializes in allowing vicious "bully" type dogs to live-out their natural lives in good health and safety, without ever being adopted-out to anyone, or being unduly exposed to humans not trained to deal with him. The fact that the Aguilars never proposed anything like that is testament to their unmitigated self-interest... a self-interest that propelled them to flat-out lie about nearly every aspect of this case. No wonder the woman who was attacked didn't agree to let the dog live and go into some kind of rehabilitation. She knew that the integrity-challenged Aguilars couldn't be trusted to do the right thing.
Jeremy Aguilar, in any case, owes an apology to around a quarter million people whom he suckered into signing his lying "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition under entirely false pretenses. Shame on him; on them both, in fact: His wife, Heather, and the lies she's been quoted telling, is clearly no better. Birds of a feather, and all that. If either of them had been more reasonable during any of this, then it would be easier to be more sympathetic to Dutch; but even then, no amount of sympathy for the animal should result in anything short of its either being destroyed, or being removed from the Aguilars' control and living-out his life in a specialist rescue and never adopted-out to anyone. Ever.
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com
References and/or links:
- The "Save Dutch the Service Dog" petition (be sure to read the outrageous comments)
- The Dog Heirs "Disabled veteran asks for public support" article
- The "Save Dutch" Facebook page (apparently taken down, as of 14 Feb 2013)
- American Allaunt images (Google images; other breeds' images unavoidably included)
- The Tacoma Pets Examiner article by Heather Marseillan (one of the sadly misled and misguided)
- Maryland attorney Jennifer S. Lubinski on Tracey v. Solesky
- Article: Toddler suffers severe facial injuries in horrific dog attack
- Article: The dog tore Keiron’s face to pieces. It was a miracle he survived
- Additional photos of pitbull attack victims (Google images; other images unavoidably included)
- Wikipedia article about Cujo (the film) (with a link, therein, to the article about the book)
- Article: Fake service dogs - pet owners exploit ADA loophole
- Article: Some pet owners try to skirt rules with fake service dogs
- Article: Fake service dogs and the negative impact
- Article: Service dog fraud - quest for the vest
- Article: How can you tell a real service dog?
- Article: Fake service dogs provoke resentment, possible rule changes
- Google search: fake OR fraudulent "service dog" OR "service dogs" vest OR vests
- Montrose Daily Press aritcle: Veteran works to save Dutch the dog; police detail attack
- Montrose Daily Press article: Montrose officials deluged with pleas on behalf of dog
- Channel 9 News: Montrose releases account of controversial 'service' dog attack
- KJCT Channel 8: Montrose says viral story leaves out details
- Channel 9 News: Two sides to Montrose dog attack
- The City of Montrose's official statement, on its website
- NewsChannel5: The truth behind Dutch the dog
- Google News search: Stories about Dutch in the press
- Google web search: various web pages about Dutch
UPDATE - Thursday 14 February 2013: The hearing occurred today in Judge Richard Brown's Montrose Municipal Court, as planned. Though extra security was present because of the literally thousands of emails and other communications -- some of them threatening -- aimed at both city officials and the Court, mostly only a precious few onlookers and the press were present in the gallery. The defendant, Jeremy Aguilar, was there, of course; as was the woman who was savagely attacked (whose name, alas, is finally known, out there; but whom I'm still not identifying because this whole thing has resulted in many threats being aimed at her, and I don't want to make it worse). They both had compelling strories to tell. Katharhynn Heidelberg, of the Montrose Daily Press, appropriately called it "a tale of two nightmares" that was heard in Judge Brown's Court today. Her coverage of the case, by the way, has been excellent, throughout; and she promises a longer and more detailed article about the hearing in Friday's (15 February 2013) Montrose Daily Press. Watch for it!
Today's was actually a sentencing hearing for Aguilar, who had been found guilty, on January 17, 2013, of violating the city's "vicious animal" ordinance because of what Dutch did. Violation of the ordinance carries a possible (and typical of misdemeanors) jail sentence of one (1) year, and/or a possible fine of $1,000 plus whatever restitution, if any, and other relevant and appropriate orders -- including euthanizing the animal -- the judge decides to issue.
Judge Brown had already issued the order for Dutch's surrender to animal control officials, and the dog's euthanization because of the severity of the attack and its prolonged nature, in January. However, he allowed Aguilar time -- until no later than today -- to comply because, at the time of the original order Aguilar had removed Dutch to Oklahoma in the vein hope of sparing the animal if he could just get it out of what he perceived to be the Court's limited jurisdiction. Of course, any attorney-at-law would have explained to Aguilar that that sort of thing doesn't work; that bench warrants have a long and interstate reach; and that, sooner or later, both he and the animal would have to face the music. Today, they did.
It's worthy of note, though, that the whole business of Aguilar's fleeing the jurisdiction, at first, thinking that he could just, in effect, flip the figurative bird at the Court, is in keeping with his obviously over-arching mindset of lawlessness, lying and manipulation of facts in order to win at any and all costs, truth and whatever is inherently right be damned. That's why he and his wife and friends launched the horribly misleading campaign of misinformation about Dutch and the situation that they did. And the Judge, by the way, was none too happy about it: more on that in a moment. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one's watching. Aguilar, et al, couldn't even do the right thing when everyone was.
That's part of the reason the woman who was attacked would have nothing to do with Aguilar putting the dog through some kind of rehabilitation in exchange for the Court sparing its life. She is Aguilar's common-law sister-in-law, and knows him and his marginal propensity for deception and bending the rules all too well. She knew, after watching Aguilar flee the state with the animal, and then getting it trained to be a "service dog" after the attack, and then claiming in the online "Save Dutch" campaign rhetoric that it had been his service dog all along -- one allegedly needed to help him with his military-service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even though Dutch had never been that to him prior to the attack -- that Aguilar couldn't be trusted any further than he could be thrown. And she's right.
If Aguilar really weren't self-interested; if all he really wanted for the animal were that its life be spared, then he'd be willing to give it up, under Court order, to an animal rescue that specializes in keeping safe and caring for "bully" type dogs that have demonstrated unacceptable aggression against humans; a rescue that, not only because it's under court order, but also because it's the only right and responsible thing to do, would never adopt-out the dog to anyone, no matter what; and would, instead, just care for it and give it a decent life until said life naturally ended. If Aguilar had asked the court if that would be okay, then he would be a considerably more sympathetic character. Instead, he's just a character... and a disingenuous one, at that.
In our appropriate-as-a-society zeal to appreciate and thank our veterans for their service, we need to be careful not to elevate them to such hero status that they are seen to be capable of doing no wrong; or that they should be pardoned, out of hand, whenever they do. My ministry of agency/advocacy to/for the homeless, disabled (and even enabled, if they nevertheless need the help) veterans, the indigent elderly, the prostituted, recent parolees, and others similarly in need gives me occasion to have no small amount of contact with vets like Aguilar... many of them -- most, in fact -- with one form or another of PTSD, even if undiagnosed. Most of them are decent guys (and women, too, but most of my clients, just like most in the military, itself, are male) who just need a little help: a hand-up, not a hand out. However, just as a certain percentage of the general US population, regardless of military service, is wayward, so, too, are some vets once they return to civilian life. Many, sadly, were that way even before they enlisted; and so it's always equally sad when their stint in the service didn't whip some sense into them and, instead, just made them more crafty and better at deception, like Aguilar. I try to help them all, unconditionally; but some of them make even that impossible by refusing to be persons of integrity, especially after I've called them on their antics. With some of them, I must terminate my free services. There's no doubt in my mind that had Aguilar been one of my clients, that's how our relationship would have ended.
In court today, Aguilar (and a dog trainer whose help he had enlisted) made impassioned pleas for Dutch. Aguilar claimed that the animal helps him cope with PTSD and concomitant nightmares. Oy! Again with the "service dog" crap: the man can't even be truthful under oath, for godsake!
He even claimed, conveniently, that yesterday (Wed 13 Feb 2013) he had to be admitted to the VA hospital because he was so anxious over Dutch that he passed out. So, then, lemmee get this straight: Aguilar served in both Iraq and Afghanastan, and also responded as a national guard member to the ravages (floating, bloated bodies and other horrors) of Hurricane Katrina, in all of which places he saw things so apparently unspeakable that, yes, he suffers, now, from quite probably legitimate PTSD...
...yet from none of which, curiously, he ever fainted. Hmmm. So, suddenly he's vulnerable. What a contrast to his earlier, "I'll fight until they have to come take him from me," which was his tough-guy response to being asked by KREX TV, channel 5, the CBS affiliate in Grand Junction, about the possibility of his being ordered, on February 14th, to surrender the dog for euthanization.
"It was the thought of having to have him put down," Aguilar told the Court today. "I had an anxiety attack. ... I felt my head was going to explode. ... (Dutch) just is not what they say he is."
Yes, Jeremy, he is. Please stop peeing our our collective leg and then telling us it's raining. Dutch's attack was not a mere reactive nip of the sort that a vet might receive from touching something too tender or sore during an examination; or that a groomer might receive from playing a little too fast and loose with the scissors. Dutch's attack was after the exigent danger from the other pitbull had passed and was no longer; and after the woman was simply trying to calm him and clean the blood off his face. It was also, as the judge pointed-out, a huge indicator of Dutch's dangerousness that he would attack a woman who raised him for the first year of his life without any prior incident. The woman added that her common-law husband -- Aguilar's older brother -- had taken to sleeping with a gun in his bed because of the online and other threats against her.
Indeed, in Dutch's defense, his level of excitement and agitation was likely such that he probably confused what the woman was doing -- her cleaning the blood off his face -- with that from which he needed to continue to protect himself; and so the lack of impulse control, suitable to any dog's living in harmony with humans, that's hard-wired into Dutch's "bully" dog DNA allowed him to indulge himself and viciously attack the woman... repeatedly. A bite to the bone in a meaty area like the thigh or the buttock is no small thing. It's huge, in fact: let's not kid ourselves. A bite to the hand causing a clean break-in-two of the finger bone, with one end of one of the pieces sticking up and out of the skin in a compound fracture is not only no small thing, it's not only huge, it's monstrous. Again, with the not kidding ourselves. The attack was both repeated and prolonged -- please fully grasp the meaning and relevance, in this case, of those words -- and would have continued had the woman not been able to put a locked door between her and the animal, as evidenced by that he continued to scratch and push against it in an attempt to get at her; and that he expressed his frustration with that he couldn't by destroying furniture and other items in the living room. Dutch, then, is exactly "what they say he is," Jeremy. Get a clue.
With her finger in a brace, and speaking in a halted, breaking voice, the woman who was attacked told the Court that the amount of her medical bills has increased to $28,000; and she's now got PTSD of her own with which to deal on account of the incident, as well as anxiety with "nightmares and visions of me dead on the floor," she said. Again, this is the part that Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists just refuse to see: that this woman -- for however short or long an actual time, but for what almost certainly seemed to the woman like an eternity at the moment -- believed, to the depths of her soul, that she was in mortal danger; that her very life could end at any moment in the jaws of a vicious animal whose size, weight and Great-White-shark-like (in terms of bite strength, but not tearing ability) bite and relentless holding power were being brought fully to bear against her in a life-or-death moment that wasn't a drill. The phrase "abject terror" doesn't even begin to cover that; and any psychologist will attest that one of the most common profound fears that humans have is being killed (and eaten, usually, but since they'd have no sense of that once killed) by an animal. It's a huge thing. Yet the nutjobs (some of whom have acquitted themselves most shamefully in the comments beneath this article) would deny her those fears and feelings in their zeal to insensibly suggest that Dutch's having caused all that, because he was allegedly "provoked," is somehow okay. Never mind that the proper attitude of humans regarding whether an animal or a human should prevail in any and all circumstances should be painfully obvious to anyone who hasn't fallen on his/her head too many times in life. And it is... to everyone but them.
At one point during his ruling, the judge paused for a full and increasingly-uncomfortable minute. He then explained to the courtroom that it was to demonstrate just how slowly time can pass when one is being attacked. The woman's ordeal, he pointed-out, had lasted for several minutes... an eternity, for her. The profound lack of regard for the victim, here, as exhibited by Dutch's owners, supporters and apologists, gives even schadenfreude a bad name.
Said lack of regard by Aguilar for the simple sanctity of self-supporting human life was not lost on Judge Brown, who noted Aguilar's consistent lack of remorse throughout the proceedings as he sentenced him to $500 fines ($250 suspended), restitution of $1,000 and twenty days in jail (18 suspended, for a net total of two). Though it might seem like not enough, remember that the judge promised to make Aguilar serve every bit of the year in jail if he didn't surrender Dutch to Animal Control, and so I'm sure the judge wanted the difference in sentences to be non-trivial. Judges think like that; and this judge, I can see, is a good one.
Though Brown agreed to hear arguments, today, from both sides regarding Dutch's fate (something he was under no legal obligation to do), he found no new evidence sufficient to cause him to change his original order that the dog be euthanized; and so he ordered, again, that Dutch be immediately surrendured to Animal Control for that purpose.
"I know you want me to take a chance on Dutch. Believe me, I understand that every time we're dealing with an animal, we're dealing with a family pet," Brown said, adding that it would be an "easy out" to allow Aguilar to take Dutch to Oklahoma.
"I'm not willing to take that risk," he said. "It could very well be that nothing will ever happen again, but there's absolutely no assurance that it won't."
Judge Brown was also none too happy about the very subject of this article: the lies and manipulations of Aguilar, et al, in the online campaign to spare Dutch's life. "The impressions created on the Internet are far different than reality," Brown said. However, the judge then seemed to accept Aguilar's ridiculous suggestion that it was not he who was responsible for them. "You didn't do it," the judge said, "but people have done it for you. What's been created is a lynch mob mentality."
"What seems to have come across is that the victim savagely and mercilessly beat the dog for no reason at all," he continued, adding that there is no evidence to support that contention. Citing the online campaign to save Dutch's assertion that the dog's attack was somehow defensible because it was allegedly provoked, the judge added: "There's no evidence of provocation." Brown also noted Aguilar's failure to correct obvious misinformation on the various websites and Facebook pages.
Judge Brown then appropriately ordered Aguilar to immediately stop all further Internet postings regarding the victim. Curiously, though Aguilar insisted that he was not responsible for them, and the judge apparently accepted that lie, the proof that it likely was one is nevertheless evidenced by that it is the "Save Dutch" Facebook page that was taken down today, presumably in compliance with the order. If Aguilar didn't control that page, then it wouldn't have needed to come down. Sadly, Tacoma Examiner Heather Marseillan, in keeping with her lack of attention to detail and carefulness, wrote this about the judge's order: "Its my belief that the judge was trying to put an end to the internets uprising in support of Dutch, maybe he is a dog hater, but as you can see by the list [of new Facebook pages] below and the many people who are active on these pages, the people are angry and you can not silence them. Good try though."
Of course, the judge's order was simply to stop Aguilar from continuing to abuse the victim, and incite others to want to threaten her, with his online lies. It had nothing to do with "put[ting] an end to the Internet's uprising in support of Dutch" or silencing "the people." No judge is that stupid. I wrote to Ms Marseillan and asked how it was possible that she could be so misled; that she could be so uncareful, just generally, regarding this entire event; an how she could so blithely mislead her readers. Her writing, as an alleged journalist, working for The Examiner website, has exhibited no balance or discernment or attempts to either discover or reveal the truth. Throughout it all, she has blindly taken the Aguilars', et al, position, in complete and utter disregard for the facts. She, too, it would seem, pathologically places the rights and lives of dogs ahead of the rights and lives of humans, as pretty much all of these "Save Dutch" nutjobs are doing. Worse, she joins in the characterization of anyone who disagrees as a "hater." Shame on her. The Examiner should review her approval to write on its website.
It seems that several new "Save Dutch" Facebook pages have already cropped-up; I've included links to them below. I sure hope, for Jeremy Aguilars's sake, that he doesn't establish another Facebook identity and post pseudonymously. Nothing ticks-off a judge like, nor is easier to punish than, a defendant in contempt; and nothing is easier for at least someone with my 40 years of IT skills, to prove. Fortunately for Jeremy, I have neither the time nor interest. But the judge should sure care, indeed.
I do notice, though, that the new Facebook pages contain many postings which either encourage the Aguilars to flaunt the law, and flee the state; and some postings insist that they already have. Others claim Dutch has (conveniently) "run away," and so cannot be surrendered. Others claims that city officials claim he's been surrendered, but not to believe it; that the city's just "trying to cover its ass." Such nonsense, all of it; and such further evidence it is of the lawless mob mentality of them all. It's embarrassing, actually. Sad, to be sure.
As Aguilar, upset, effectively fled the courtroom at the end of the hearing, his lawyer (he finally has one) announced, today, her plan to appeal Judge Brown's decisions to the Colorado Seventh Judicial District's Montrose Combined (District and County) Court. Pending the outcome thereof, Judge Brown correctly agreed to temporarily stay the order to euthanize Dutch, though his order for Aguilar to immediately surrender the dog to Animal Control remained. As of end-of-business day, it appeared he hadn't, though there's been considerable difficulty on anyone's part getting the facts of what's going on.
Mr. Aguilar may be hoping, in any case, for more than is possible. An appeal does not mean that the case will be re-tried, or that its merits will be reviewed. That's not what happens with appeals. The very first motion that begins the appeal process is called a "motion to correct errors," which is filed by the appellant to the next-higher court -- the appellate court: in this case, the Montrose Combined District/County Court -- and which simply asks for said appeals court to review the trial and hearing transcripts and correct any errors that the judge (Judge Brown, in this case) made. Even if found, though, the error means nothing if it would not have changed the ultimate outcome had it not been made. Rather, there must be reversible error -- something that Judge Brown did wrong which, had he not, would have changed the outcome -- in order for any found errors to matter. Minor procedural errors, which every judge routinely makes, are not enough.
Additionally, it is not the appellate court's job to find the errors. The appellant (Aguilar, in this case) must meticulously point them out; and said errors must be documentable (either in statutue, rules of procedure, or by citing case law) matters of law and/or process. Aguilar can't simply say to the appellate court that he doesn't like Judge Brown's ruling, and so wants another bite at the apple. He had his one and only chance at that in Judge Brown's court. The case has been adjudicated. That ship, then, has sailed. It cannot be further adjudicated on appeal. That's not what appeals are for. All that's left to Aguilar is to find reversable error in Judge Brown's rulings during hearings and trial.
Heck, Aguilar isn't even smart enough not to lie under oath; or -- and this is the critical part, with regard to an appeal -- to be represented in this matter, which allegedly meant so much to him, by competent legal counsel... at least not back during his trial, when it really mattered. He's certainly not smart enough to mount an effective appeal without the help of a lawyer; so it's good to see that he has finally hired one -- Amy Ondos of Weaver & Fitzhugh, P.C., of Montrose -- who was with him at today's hearing. One of the biggest reasons lawyers object to things during trials is to make a record for a possible appeal. Aguilar wasn't represented at trial, and so no objections of record were made (or, if there were, they weren't the kind of objections that make a record for an appeal). Nor does Aguilar have the slightest notion how to identify a judicial error, reversible or otherwise; though his new attorney certainly could. But, again, without not just error, but reversible error, there isn't a chance in hell that the appellate court would overturn Judge Brown, lawyer or not. And, trust me, Judge Brown made no reversible errors: He followed the law; he bent over backward to ensure that all sides were adequately heard; and he well-explained his reasoning and rationale throughout, all of which were based on an appropriate reading of law, and proper judicial procedure.
The order to destroy Dutch, then, will stand. Mark my words. All that Aguilar has done is very briefly delay it, as he will soon learn the hard way.
Were I advising Aguilar, here's what I'd tell him to do: Forget the appeal: that ship has sailed, and you'll just be wasting everyone's time. Instead, do the unselfish thing and try to arrange for Dutch's survival with Aguilar no longer owning him. Find a non-profit animal rescue that's clean, well-run and well-funded; which is likely to be around for at least fifteen years (so that it will outlive Dutch); and which specializes in housing and well-caring for animals like Dutch that have done something horrible and so can never live a normal life with humans again. Execute an agreement with the animal rescue non-profit whereby it agrees to care for Dutch for the rest of his natural life, and to never adopt him out or allow him to have casual, unsupervised human contact; and wherein it agrees to accept, as funds to help defray the cost of so doing, any and all money that the online campaign to save Dutch has raised or will raise, which money raised-to-date would be placed in escrow on the occasion of the execution of the aforementioned agreement.
Make the agreement conditional on both the approval and recommendation of both Animal Control, and the Court; and then get the head of Animal Control to visit the rescue non-profit, and to look at the agreement, and get to a place where he can recommend it to the Court. Then file a motion with the Court to reconsider the its order to destroy Dutch, based on new circumstances; and attach to the motion the agreement with the rescue non-profit as evidence thereof; and then ask for a hearing. Then subpoena the director of both Animal Control and the animal rescue non-profit to come to said hearing and to testify to what's been agreed to and their accord therewith, and to join with Aguilar in asking the Judge to permanently stay his euthanization order and to substitute an order approving the agreement, further ordering that said agreement has the effect of a court order, and so can neither be violated or vacated except by a court of relevant jurisdiction. Said order would also release the money from escrow and have it given to the animal rescue non-profit; and futher take control of whatever online or other donation mechanism exists so that any further money donated to Dutch goes to the animal rescue non-profit.
Getting the woman who was attacked -- the victim -- to approve it would help, too. However, if this is all done properly -- preferably with the help of an attorney-at-law, for godsake -- it should actually not matter what she thinks or wants. That said, her goal should be to ensure that this animal can never hurt anyone again. It should not be retribution: to have the animal killed simply as punishment. The animal lacks the cognitive and reasoning powers to even know what it did, in the human master scheme of things, and so pure retribution amounts to little more than cruelty. If doing what is both fair and just for humans, and humane for the animal, is the victim's goal, then she should have no (or at least little, once she thinks it through and takes a deep breath and imposes reason on herself) hesitation to agree. If Aguilar could get her agreement, and then subpoena her to come to that hearing, too; and if she would then join with him and both Animal Control and the animal rescue non-profit in moving the Court approve the plan, then it should be a done deal.
But it will not happen, and here's why: Aguilar lacks the empathy to do something so unselfish. For his pathological likes, it's about winning, and only winning, at all costs, as his actions have so cogently demonstrated, thus far. It's a narcissistic, scorched earth kind of mentality that he either had before he entered the military, or learned from its culture; and it has now come around to bite him, as even Dutch isn't capable of biting him, right square in the ass. Aguilar will get, then, in the end, exactly what he deserves...
...yet it will be Dutch who pays the price for it with his life.
Additional references and/or links:
- Montrose Daily Press article: Tight security is planned for dog hearing today
- Montrose Daily Press article: Judge upholds euthanization order for dog
- Montrose Daily Press article: No reprieve for Dutch the dog
- Montrose Daily Press article: Victim details aftermath of dog attack; Dutch's owner to appeal
- The Western Slope Watchdog: Dutch the Dog doomed to die?
- KKCO NBC11: Judge orders Dutch the dog put down, appeal underway
- Dutch, the service dog, is currently safe and alive (another misguided article by Heather Marseillan)
- The New "Save Dutch the Dog" Facebook page (takes pains to make clear it's not the Aguilars')
- The "Tribute to Dutch" Facebook page(just a fan page, in effect)
- The "Save Dutch, We are his voice" Facebook page(another fan page)
- The "...No Judge Will Order This Page Down" Facebook page(another fan page)
- The "I support Save Dutch" Facebook page(another fan page)
- The "Save Dutch II" Facebook page (the heir apparent; the now seemingly-official "Save Dutch" page)
- Google News search: Stories about Dutch in the press
- Google web search: various web pages about Dutch
UPDATE - Wednesday, 20 February 2013: While no one on the various pro-Dutch Facebook pages can get anyone at the City of Montrose to respond to their emails or take their phone calls; and while the "Tacoma Pet Examiner," Heather Marseillan, is publishing stories on The Examiner website with headlines like "Dutch is safe, and Montrose County is silent" (never mind that it's the "City of Montrose" we're talking about, here, and not "Montrose County;" geez, the poor, misguided, and journalistically-challenged woman can't even get that part right), I am having no trouble at all getting Montrose city officials to return my calls. That's because I'm providing the entire story, here: both sides. Yes, I'm taking a position as to which side of the story is the inherently right one -- which side is the side of the angels -- but that's what "analysis and opinion" articles like this one do. Consequently, I have the city's respect, and pretty much no one on the pro-Dutch side does. Of course, the city also respects the other news entities out there that have also reported things fairly and honorably. It's pretty much just the pro-Dutch nutjob mobsters that the city's ignoring.
And is it any wonder? The pro-Dutch side has shown itself to be the very definition of unreasonableness by not allowing even incontrovertible facts to get in the way of their skewed view of things and blind mission. Such over-the-top zealots simply cannot be reasoned with; and so, predictably, no one in the city is even trying. The pro-Dutch mob has made its bed; and so is now forced to read such as my words, here, whether or not it likes it, in order to get real updates.
And so here are some...
First, Dutch is alive, but why should anyone be surprised by that? Ms Marseillan recklessly reported, on February 15th, that "Dutch, the service dog, was euthanized [on] Valentine’s Day." Nothing could have been further from the truth; and the journalistically both unskilled and irresponsible Ms Marseillan didn't really even need a source on that because the judge could not have been more clear in his February 14th ruling. In it, he indicated that while he wanted the animal immediately surrendered to Animal Control, he was officially staying his January 17th euthanization order pending the outcome of the appeal which Mr. Aguilar's attorney declared, at the end of the February 14th hearing, she intended to file. And so even if Aguilar had surrendered the dog to Animal Control by end-of-business day on February 14th, as he was ordered to do, said dog would, at this writing, and right up until at least February 28th, still be alive, even if in the custody of Animal Control. If the appeal were subsequently timely-filed by the February 28th deadline, then the dog would remain alive even longer, at least until said appeal had finally been adjudicated... potentially weeks or months from now.
Unfortunately, Mr. Aguilar did not surrender Dutch to animal control on February 14th, as ordered -- nor has he done so since -- and so Aguilar is now, technically, in contempt of court... a both jailable and fineable offense. In some jurisdictions, it's even an "open-ended" offense, in terms of potential consequences. In such jurisdictions, Contempt of Court is the only crime for which the judge may issue a virtually unlimited sentence, if he wishes; and from which there is no appeal. Contempt of Court is one of the last things, then, that anyone wants to ever get on the wrong side of, as Aguilar has now stupidly done. The ultimate consequences have yet to befall Aguilar, and so it may be easy for his supporters who don't know how this all works to just shrug it off and presume that nothing will happen. Trust me, something will. The pro-Dutch mob should not derive comfort from that the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly.
Remember that the judge didn't say that Aguilar could keep Dutch pending either the timely filing, or the outcome of the appeal. Rather, the judge said that Dutch needed to be surrendered to Animal Control by end-of-business-day on February 14th, no matter what; but that the animal would not then be euthanized, pending the outcome of Aguilar's promised appeal. The judge also promised Aguilar, back on January 17th, that if he failed to surrender Dutch at the appointed time and place, then he, Aguilar, would spend every bit of the year in jail that is called for by the "vicious animal" ordinance.
On February 14th, the judge, based on his assumption that Aguilar would follow both the law and his order, sentenced Aguilar to only 20 days in jail, with all but two of them suspended, for a net of only two (2) days in jail (when the ordinance allowed for an up-to-one-year jail sentence). However, Aguilar's flaunting of the Court, now, by his failure to surrender Dutch by end-of-business-day on February 14th, as ordered, has probably earned Aguilar not only a Contempt of Court citation, and however many days in jail to which he'll be sentenced for that, but, also, the full year in jail that the judge promised Aguilar on January 17th that he'd serve if he failed to surrender the dog, as ordered. Again, though, the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, and so it may not all happen for a while. Such should not, however, be presumed an indication that it won't happen at all.
Part of the reason for any delay results from the general timing of things. For example, Aguilar has 14 calendar days from the February 14th hearing -- until February 28th -- to file his appeal; so that means that everything and everyone is sorta' just waiting for that. Remember that the appeal process must start with the City of Montrose Municipal Court -- Judge Brown's court -- and not the Colorado Seventh Judicial District's Montrose Combined (District and County) Court, where the appeal will, if filed, ultimately be heard. As of this writing, beyond end-of-business-day on 20 February 2013, no official either notice of appeal, or actual appeal, has been filed with the clerk of the City of Montrose Municipal Court. Of course, Aguilar's attorney -- Amy Ondos of Montrose's Weaver & Fitzhugh, P.C. -- knows she has until end-of-business day on the 28th, which is next Thursday; so she has plenty of time. An appeal could yet be filed. What it would claim that was done wrong in Judge Brown's court, I can't imagine; but it could nevertheless still be filed by the 28th.
The reason everyone's kinda' just sitting around waiting on the appeal is because, of course, the judge ordered, on February 14th, that everything would stop, pending it. Granted, Aguilar's failure to surrender Dutch on the 14th puts him in contempt, regardless; and so the judge could cite him for that, right now. However, the city attorney would have to first prepare a Contempt of Court motion, and then ask for a show-cause hearing, which hearing would then need to occur...
... and by the time all that happened, the 14 days by which Aguilar must file an appeal would likely have come and gone. So it's just easier, at this point, for the city to wait to see if an appeal will be filed, so that whatever the city attorney then files can be both all-inclusive, and in light of most recent events.
Additionally, there's some internal administrative timing at the city which could potentially inure to Aguilar's temporary benefit. The already semi-retired current city attorney is fully retiring on February 28th; and the new city attorney won't start until March 11th. So if the current city attorney files nothing against Aguilar by or before February 28th, then there will be no city attorney to file anything until after March 11th. And it's unlikely that the new city attorney would file much of anything until he at least figured-out where the bathrooms and coffee machine are located, and so it's entirely possible that Aguilar's case wouldn't be on his radar until the week of March 18th. That said, who knows: The new city attorney is said to be an excellent and experienced lawyer and former judge who really knows what he's doing; and so maybe he would be so irritated by Aguilar's flaunting of Judge Brown's surrender order that a Contempt of Court filing on March 12th will be the new city attorney's first order of business. I know that it would certainly be mine, were I the new city attorney. Additionally, the current city attorney, who is no doubt also irritated with Aguilar, may make sure that filing a Contempt of Court motion against him is the last thing he does on his way out the door. So, then, one never really knows how the internal administrative timing part of things could play out. It may inure to Aguilar's temporary benefit, but then it may not. Only time will tell.
If a Contempt of Court show-cause hearing is held, and Aguilar attends but doesn't immediately cure the surrender problem by then and there surrendering Dutch to Animal Control, then he could be taken into custody and jailed for Contempt of Court on the spot; and if he either doesn't file an appeal, or loses it, then Judge Brown could also keep his promise to make Aguilar serve every day of the year-long jail sentence called for by the ordinance, and which Brown promised on January 17th that Aguilar would serve if he failed to surrender the dog, as ordered. In fact, technically, Aguilar could be jailed for Contempt of Court even if he did then and there cure the surrender problem, because he was in Contempt as of end-of-business-day back on February 14th; and his showing-up for a show-cause hearing at some later date doesn't cure that: it only finally brings him to justice for it.
Of course, if Aguilar fails to appear at the Contempt of Court show-cause hearing -- and especially if the dog isn't somehow surrendered by then -- then the judge could, and likely would, issue a bench warrant for Aguilar's arrest. As long as Aguilar's in the state of Colorado at the moment he's finally arrested on said warrant, then he'd be immediately transported back to Montrose and summarily jailed there. However, if he's in another state by then (and it seems that Oklahoma is where he'd most likely be), then the question arises whether the City of Montrose wants to spend the money to extradite him. Were I the person making that decision, there's no question that we'd spend the money. However, persons wanted for minor crimes -- and this whole thing involves nothing but minor crimes, in the master scheme of things -- are often arrested on out-of-state warrants, only to be subsequently released because the out-of-state issuer of said warrant is unwilling to spend the money to first pay for the state's side of an extradition hearing in the state where the person was arrested; and then to task two police officers to drive or fly to said state and retrieve the prisoner once the extradition has been granted by the court, there. It is entirely possible, then, that even if Aguilar is cited for contempt and a bench warrant is issued, then as long as he's not in Colorado when he's finally arrested, he would not be extradited and dragged back to Montrose. However, the warrant would remain active, and so if he ever set foot in Colorado again, he could be arrested and would be jailed in Montrose. People with old warrants for small things get caught all the time. All Aguilar would have to do is come back to Colorado and then get pulled-over for speeding, or get stopped (even while sober) at a DUI checkpoint some night, or have a minor fender bender, and next thing you know he'd have cuffs on him for the Montrose bench warrant; and because it would be in Colorado, no extradition would be involved: He'd simply be transported back to Montrose, and summarily jailed, there.
Of course, there's also the chance that Montrose will spend the money to extradite him, no matter where he's arrested, as it should be so that Aguilar and the knuckleheads who've been counseling him to lawlessness on the various "Save Dutch" Facebook pages will realize that people just can't do that; that in "a government of laws and not men," as John Adams is famously quoted as having written about our country in his seventh "Novanglus" letter, published in the Boston Gazette in 1774 (but which notion has actually existed, and been expressed in various forms, since ancient Greece; and was likely paraphrased by Adams from something Voltaire had written), we are all required, pursuant to our respective responsibilities under the implied social contract, to always act lawfully, and not as if the rulings of judges have no meaning. The law is more important than any citizen.
There is no honor in trying to pull a fast one on a judge! Integrity, as I earlier herein wrote, means doing the right thing even when no one's watching! That Aguilar could so blithely fly in the face of the judge's order speaks volumes about his sociopathology. Remember that the definition of a sociopath, in part, is that s/he believes society's rules do not apply to him/her... as Aguilar is clearly evidencing he believes. Moreover, if his lawyer, Ms Ondos, told him that it was okay to do what Aguilar's now doing, then she needs to be disbarred. Shame on her, if that's what she advised him. Fortunately, I doubt that she did. No competent attorney would. If so, though, then it means she's got an out-of-control client; and were I her I'd basically tell him that if he didn't immediately comply with Judge Brown's order and surrender the dog to Animal Control, then I would no longer be his attorney. Simple as that. If Ms Ondos fails, as an officer of the court, to do at least that, then her integrity comes into question, too.
As for Aguilar's appeal, it turns out that what I earlier wrote about him not getting a second bite at the apple, in my February 14th update, here, may be wrong. It's not that I was wrong about how appeals normally work; but, rather, because I don't know Colorado law (I'm in California) well enough to have realized the role that Montrose's being a "home rule" city plays in the master scheme of things, it turns out that Aguilar could get a second bite at the apple after all. Montrose's Municipal Court, it turns out, is the kind of court from which appeals of the sort that Aguilar contemplates can result in the entire case being entirely (or at least substantially) re-heard by the higher-level appellate court: in this case, the Colorado Seventh Judicial District's Montrose Combined (District and County) Court. It could even, in fact, go all the way to a jury, there, I'm told. That, trust me, is not how appeals normally work; but it's apparently how Aguilar's appeal at least could work, depending on what his attorney, Ms Ondos, writes in her appeal paperwork which must be filed in the Montrose Municipal Court by end-of-business-day on Thursday, February 28th.
It's unlikely, I'm told, that much of anything will happen until at least that date. If Ms Ondos files an appeal for Aguilar in the Montrose Municipal Court by that date, then the matter will be set for the first of the various hearings involved, some of which could be days, weeks or even months away. An actual trial date in the higher-level district/county (appellate) court, if it comes to that, would happen even later. If Aguilar ultimately wins that, then the entire matter will be over for both him and Dutch; at which point the two of them could ride off into the suset together, and that would be that. Even then, though, there could, at least theoretically, still be the matter of Aguilar's contempt of Judge Brown's surrender order. Aguilar could still, even if he wins the appeal, theoretically be held accountable for that. Only time will tell.
However, if February 28th comes and goes without Ms Ondos filing an appeal (which, if she feels her client is out of control, and so if she wants to drop him, could happen); or if she files one and then Aguilar ultimately loses it, then the euthenasia order of January 17th immediately kicks-in and Dutch, if he can be found and brought back to the City of Montrose's animal control department, will be put down. That's the whole reason Judge Brown wanted Dutch surrendered to Animal Control on February 14th, but with his euthanasia order stayed pending the appeal: so that said going out and finding Dutch would not need to occur. In my opinion, Judge Brown should have asked Aguilar if he had the dog with him to surrender to Animal Control at the outset of the February 14th sentencing hearing; and then when Aguilar admitted that he didn't, the hearing should have been ended and Aguilar should have been taken into custody and put in jail for Contempt of Court on the spot. Moreover, he should have been told that he'd sit there 'til he rots if he doesn't somehow produce the dog and surrender it to Animal Control; only after which his sentencing hearing would then resume. But I'm told that Judge Brown is just not that kind of guy; or that if he can be, it certainly takes a lot more than that to sufficiently tick him off that he would ever do something like that; that he's eminently fair, and conciliatory, and generally wants to try to always work things out as best they can be. It's quite obvious from how the judge has handled the entire case that that's true. Aguilar, then, is lucky to be in Judge Brown's court... despite those among the pro-Dutch mob who post otherwise on Facebook.
In any case, getting back to what happens if February 28th comes and goes without Ms Ondos filing an appeal, or if she files one and Aguilar ultimately loses said appeal: At that point, because Aguilar has not complied with the judge's surrender order, he will likely have a warrant issued for his arrest (that is, after the city attorney files the necessary Contempt of Court and show-cause hearing paperwork, and said hearing is held; and assuming it hasn't already been done by that time, and that Aguilar has not turned himself in). How long it would then take the city to catch-up with Aguilar, and seize the dog from him, is a huge question. Additionally, whether or not the city would be willing to go to the expense of extraditing Aguilar, if he's caught in another state, is an almost even bigger question. Catching-up with Aguilar, regardless, could take days, weeks, months or even years...
...during every single minute of which Aguilar would need to be looking over his shoulder, avoiding contact with law enforcement at all costs. It's a horrible way to live. Worse, the whole mess would then be discoverable during common pre-employment background checks, and so Aguilar would then find himself unable to get a decent job. Moreover, though it's unlikely to ever happen, it's theoretically possible that if he happened to apply for a job at a company wherein the owner has a strong sense of law and order, or the security manager is a fomer police officer, Aguilar could find himself being hired even after the pre-employment background check discovered the warrant, but only so he's be easy to find; and then law enforcement would be called to come pick him up. Again, it's a terrible way to live. Aguilar, in his arrogance, thinks, I'm sure, that it's no big deal; that he can easily handle it. But it's a great deal more difficult and stressful than one might think. Aguilar's likely in, then, for a rude awakening.
The city isn't sure where Aguilar is, though most in it assume that he and the dog have fled the state. The city will most likely, for the moment, just sit and wait to see if an appeal is filed by February 28th. It's likely that whatever the city does in response to either a timely appeal filing, or Aguilar's failure to so do, will be something with which the new city attorney will deal on or after March 11th.
That said, I'm told that the irritated current city attorney is at least toying with the idea of pursuing the Contempt of Court motion right now. So who really knows what will happen. That not very much will happen before the week of March 11th, when the new city attorney arrives, seems most likely; and that nothing much will happen even soon after that is a real possibility, too.
Aguilar, in any case, is not getting away with anything. There will be consequences: the question is not "if," but "when."
The smartest thing he can do, at this point, is to surrender the dog to Animal Control, now, as ordered, and then just wait to see what happens regarding his appeal. If his lawyer, Ms Ondos, can convince the district/county (appellate) court to re-hear substantially the entire case and let it go to a jury; and if she can then pack said jury with pro-Dutch nutjob mobsters, then Aguilar could actually win his appeal. It would be a travesty of justice, of course, but it's at least theoretically possible. However, if he keeps-up this nonsense of flying in the face of the judge's order, and fleeing the state with the dog, as it appears he's done, then he's just going to end-up making it so, so much worse that his situation will likely finally become legally untenable. It would be horrible for Aguilar if he ended-up getting arrested 15 or more years from now, long after Dutch has passed from natural causes, and after Aguliar has sufficiently matured that he wishes he'd never been so stupid; and then he ends-up doing the entire year in jail that Judge Brown promised him, along with whatever additional days or weeks to which he could be sentenced for Contempt of Court.
Aguilar needs to stand-up, and be a man, and face the music, and do the right thing; to finally exhibit some integrity.
I asked the city officials with whom I spoke, today, if the city would be amenable to my earlier suggestion, herein, wherein Dutch would be surrendered to a non-profit rescue organization that specializes in caring for dogs that have done something awful and so could no longer have casual contact with humans; and wherein said rescue would agree, in writing, with the force of a court order because the Court would approve and order it, to care for Dutch for the rest of his natural life, and never adopt him out to anyone, no matter what, allowing him contact with only the specially-trained humans who care for him. No one could say, officially, if that would be acceptable; however, everyone agreed that if it could really be worked-out to the Court's satisfaction, then it would certainly be in keeping with the city's public safety goals which would otherwise not be satisfied by anything short of Dutch's destruction. And so, they said, it may very well be something to which the city might be willing to agree, if it could be worked-out to its public safety satisfaction... but, again, no promises.
"Our animal control is a really good and humane one," said city public information officer Dave Spears, continuing, "one which offers low-cost spaying and neutering, and placement for abandoned pets, and all manner of other services. They're not just a bunch of heartless houligans seeking to euthanize every animal with which they come into contact. If an alternative to Dutch's destruction which nevertheless satisfies the city's public safety concerns could be worked-out, then I would think that that's something the city would at least consider. Whether or not it would ultimately agree is another matter, but I would think that it would at least consider it; and, if it could be worked-out, then, yes, perhaps even recommend it to the judge."
Of course, someone -- Aguilar, in this case -- would have to pay for it; however, if it's true that the Aguilars have collected money to pay for legal fees, then whatever's left after their attorney negotiates and writes-up the contract with the rescue non-profit, and presents it to the judge, could be given to the non-profit rescue, with ongoing fund-raising thereafter.
Sadly, as I herein earlier wrote, Aguilar's self-interest and narcissism will likely keep him from ever seriously considering it. Instead, he'll pursue his scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs strategy, even at his own legal peril, at the potential peril of his liberty; and also at the risk of Dutch's very life. The appeal that Aguilar's lawyer has told the Court he wants to pursue is high-stakes brinksmanship that Aguilar is as likely as not to lose. Having his attorney spend her time working, instead, to draft an agreement with a non-profit rescue that would be willing to ensure that Dutch will be well-cared-for, will never have casual contact with humans, and will never be adopted-out; and then presenting it all to the Court with the city's blessing, and then donating whatever money from the legal fees is left, rather than pursuing an expensive and likely-not-to-be-successful appeal would be the best possible stewardship of whatever money the aguilars have raised. Moreover -- and most importantly -- it would ensure that Dutch is not euthanized, even if it means that he may no longer be the Aguilars' pet.
Such unselfishness, though, on the part of the Aguilars, is clearly too much to ask. It is disingenuous, then, for them to claim to have Dutch's best interests at heart. It is, rather, their selfish interests about which they solely care; and Dutch's very life with which they're willing to gamble.
Dutch, then, is just their pawn. What horrible, horrible people.
ADDENDUM, added late on Wed 20 Feb 2013: After writing the above 20 Feb 2013 update, I've just learned that the Montrose Municipal Court has penciled-into its calendar May 16, 2013 as the date on which there will be a hearing to set the dates by which all fines, restitution and other fees and costs will be paid by Aguilar, and also by which Aguilar will serve his jail sentence, if no appeal is filed by February 28th.
Said another way, to be more clear: If and only if no appeal is filed by the February 28th deadline, then there will be a hearing on May 16th; and at that May 16th hearing the judge will determine (likely with the defendant Aguilar and his lawyer present so they can participate in the discussion) precisely by when all fines, fees, costs, and restitution will be paid; and also by when Aguilar will serve his two-day jail sentence. I'm not saying that Aguilar must pay all of that money, and serve his jail time, by May 16th. Rather, I'm saying that a hearing will be held on May 16th to determine by when he will do all those things. But said May 16th hearing will only be held if no appeal is filed by the February 28th deadline.
What does it mean? Not sure yet. However, my gut tells me that maybe (and I stress that word, 'cause I could be way off on this) Aguilar's attorney has called the judge and said that there may be no appeal after all, and so she may have asked how long the hearing date to finally settle everything can be pushed out; and way out in mid-May is what was agreed to. That's just one possibility, and it's purely speculation on my part, so don't read too much into it. There are many other possibilities, including that the Municipal Court simply wanted to put at least some date by which to re-visit the case, and determine status, onto the calendar; and so it picked mid-May because it figured that whatever is going to happen -- including maybe even the completion of the appeal -- will likely have happened by then. It really could be as simple and meaningless as that. We must take care, whenever we hear hoofbeats, to think horses, and not zebras.
That said, if my first speculation is accurate (and I'm by no means suggesting that it is), then maybe Aguilar wants time to kinda' get his house in order and say his good-byes to Dutch. Who knows. All I know is that a date way out in mid-May, to do what is being penciled-in to be done, smells a little bit to me like something arranged, today, between defendant's counsel and the judge (with the city attorney's agreement, of course, so that it's not ex-parte) to finally wrap things up. If so, then maybe Aguilar's attorney has more control over her client that I originally herein speculated; and, if so, then good for her.
We'll obviously know, in time.
NOTE: I've received some private email communication from people who want to comment, below, but who want to do it completely anonymously because they don't want to be hounded and ridiculed and threatened by some of the more nutty types who tend to weigh in on this story. If you'll notice, below, I've received a few comments by email that were very negative toward me and my article, here, yet I still posted them as comments because here, and not my email inbox, is where they belong; and because I'm not afraid of negative comments about me and/or this story. As I wrote in the story, such comments can be useful for determining who's truly nuts, and so whom to ignore.
You'll also notice that because email has a reasonable expectation of privacy, I didn't identify who sent them. I did it that way because it's the only ethical way to do it, and I, unlike the Aguilars, have integrity. I've since received some communication by email asking if I'd do the same thing for others... both who do and don't agree with me. And so I'm now posting, here, that, yes, I'd be happy to do that.
So if you'd like to comment here, below, but don't want to be in any way identifiable or contact-able (other than by me, obviously), then please feel free to send me your comment via email, and I'll happily post it here without identifying you. And, yes, I promise to honor that, no matter how mean to me you are. [grin]
Send to: gregg at greggdeselms dot com (which I trust you know how to format into a proper email address)