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Full story with pictures of sweet dog

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. 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 Incident

On November 14, 2012, Jeremy and Heather left Dutch with his former owner 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.

The bent metal pole seen above was found in the back yard belonging to Dutch's former owner (click on image to enlarge).

Dutch's Injuries

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 eyes were swollen shut and his snout had swelled to three times its normal size.

Dutch's Temperament

In addition to the veterinarian who evaluated Dutch's wounds (see above), other animal experts have stepped forward to commend Dutch for his temperament.

Carrie Williams is a highly recognized and experienced 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).

"In my testing of dogs for TDI and the AKC and as a dog obedience instructor, I have dealt with a number of aggressive dogs. Dutch was not one of those dogs.", Carrie says "Dutch is a sweetheart. In 26 years of training dogs, he is one of the nicest dogs I've ever come across. That is why I'm volunteering my time to try and save his life."

Carrie evaluated Dutch over a three day period and says, "I truly believe this dog would not bite anyone unless he was provoked and felt like he was defending his life. Dutch was a joy to work with and a wonderful service dog with a great temperament."

During her evaluation, Carrie recounts several of her evaluation techniques:

"On day one of my evaluation, I think I surprised even Jeremy when I met Dutch for the first time. Upon initial contact, I approached Dutch menacingly. I then stood over him, maintaining direct eye contact, in an effort to illicit an aggressive response. Normally, a dog with aggression issues may growl at the very least. Many will snarl and snap, then move to establish a dominate position. Dutch immediately averted his eyes and lowered his head in a submissive manner. When I continued my aggressive behavior towards him he began licking my face and wagging his tail. He continued this submissive behavior until I relaxed my dominant stance. He then continued wagging his tail and licking my hand in a friendly manner.

Next, I tested him further by feeding him treats and then taking the food right out of his mouth. Common sense dictates that putting your hand in a dog's mouth is a good way to get bit, especially when you're taking away treats from a strange dog, but as soon as Dutch felt my hand in his mouth he immediately released the treat and never attempted to snatch it from my hand or nip it away. This gentle, submissive behavior when interacting with a complete stranger is rare, even in common "family dog" breeds." Read Carrie's evaluation in full here.

Corroborating Carrie's evaluation of Dutch, AKC CGC evaluator Sandie Wyman, stated, "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."

Legal Battle

Dutch's former owner has pressed charges against Jeremy and Dutch through the City of Montrose animal control office in Colorado. Photos admitted to court showed that the woman’s puncture wounds from Dutch's bite did not have tears of the skin. In addition, the woman did not receive stitches for them.

Jeremy was cited with municipal ordinance 6-2-9 (A), Vicious animals. Under this ordinance, "A vicious animal is defined as any animal that, without provocation, bites or attacks persons or other animals." Heather says that although the judge agreed that Dutch was provoked, the ordinance applies to Dutch's case because he did not bite his former owner until they went inside the home and the beating occurred outside of the home. The judge ruled Dutch's bite a separate circumstance from his beating and there is now an active euthanization order for Dutch.

Ordinance 6-2-9 (A), Vicious animals carries the possibility of one year in jail. Since Dutch is currently under the care of the Aguilars, a Colorado judge ordered Jeremy to post a $500 appearance bond. The judge warned Jeremy that if he doesn't surrender Dutch, the combat veteran will absolutely spend the whole year in jail.

Jeremy and Heather offered to send Dutch through a rehabilitation program, agreeing to the judge that if the evaluator considered Dutch aggressive, that they would surrender him. The Aguilars say that the judge told them that would only be allowed if the prosecutor (Dutch's former owner) would agree to it. Dutch's former owner refused to agree to the Aguilars' offer.

Current Status

Dutch's next court date is February 14, 2013. At that time, the Aguilars will learn how much of a fine and restitution they will have to pay to court and to Dutch's former owner. They will also find out if Jeremy will be sent to jail. But most importantly, they will have to surrender Dutch. The court has asked that they surrender Dutch to animal control before the court date.

The Aguilars are continuing Dutch's training in the hopes that if the judge does force them to surrender their beloved dog, that they can appeal the decision. Their primary concern leading up to the court date next week is to get the euthanasia order stopped to save Dutch's life.

What you can do to help

If you would like to help Dutch, Jeremy and Heather, here is what you can do:

Share Dutch's story
Sign and share: Save Dutch petition


Donate to the Aguilar's legal fund via Paypal (heatheraaguilar@gmail.com)
Follow Save Dutch and his family on Facebook

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Full story with pictures of sweet dog