In a controversial story out of Montrose, Colorado, U.S. Army veteran Jeremiah Aguilar took to the Internet when his service dog Dutch was scheduled to be euthanized for attacking his former owner. Most notably Aguilar started a Facebook Page for Dutch, and a petition to save him. Public opinion is now strongly on Aguilar’s side, but a judge says he used social media to mislead the public.
Jeremiah Aguilar adopted an American Allaunt named Dutch, that is now a registered service dog, when the dog was two to help with his PTSD. According to Dogheirs.com on November 14, 2012, Jeremy and his wife, Heather, left Dutch with his former owner while they drove a family member to the airport. The former owner reportedly admitted, “I started punching him in the face and kept punching him until my hands hurt so bad I couldn’t hit him anymore.” She then grabbed a metal tiki torch pole and beat Dutch with that. It was after she pulled Dutch from her backyard into the house by his collar, and grabbed his mouth that he bit her. The woman was bitten on her leg and buttock, though it seems that the skin was not broken, and Dutch sustained injuries to his face and head. Specific injuries are listed in the Dogheirs.com piece. The reason for the woman’s attack on the dog, however is notably absent from all accounts.
Dutch was ordered euthanized in January 2013 due to the severity of the attack. Aguilar said that at the time he was so upset he had a panic attack, “It was the thought of having to have him put down. I had an anxiety attack. … I felt my head was going to explode. … (Dutch) just is not what they say he is.” So Aguilar appealed to the public via the Internet and refused to turn over his dog to authorities. He was held to be in contempt of court.
Many hail him as a hero for standing up for his large-breed dog, but it seems that he left some important details out of his account.
On April 26, 2013, The Montrose Daily Press confirmed that the woman attacked by Dutch was bitten on her thighs and buttocks, but added that he broke her by finger by biting it when she tried to loosen his grip on her; she says she now suffers from PTSD as a result of the attack, which the paper goes on the describe in more detail.
The victim, who has received threats for her actions, was breaking up a fight between her dog, Artex, and Dutch. It was only after Artex was out of his reach that Dutch turned on the woman. The report continues: “Per official reports: The woman attempted to take refuge in her room, but fell, and Dutch leapt on top of her, biting her buttock and again hitting bone. It was in prying his jaws loose that the woman’s finger was bitten and broken. She was able to get free, barricade herself in her bedroom and call her fiancé while Dutch repeatedly rammed himself against the door and reportedly attacked furniture.”
Also, it seems that Dutch was not a service dog at the time of the attack.
After hearing both sides, Judge Richard Brown, who commented that Aguilar did not show much empathy towards the victim, said he saw no reason to change Dutch’s death sentence. Brown said that Aguilar’s portrayal of the situation did not match the facts, “The impressions created on the Internet is far different than reality.” Brown added, “You didn’t do it, but people have done it for you. What’s been created is a lynch mob mentality.”
As it stands Aguilar did not turn over his dog to be euthanized, and failed to show up for his contempt hearing on April 18. It is unlikely that this will garner any sympathy for Dutch from the court.