Rifle man fined $10K for animal cruelty | VailDaily.com

Rifle man fined $10K for animal cruelty

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Submitted photoDora, a 3-year-old mastiff, was about half her normal body weight and couldn't put weight on her hind legs when Garfield County Animal Control seized her in June. Caregivers decided she had to be euthanized after about three weeks, and the owner was sentenced Monday to a year's probation and must pay almost $10,000.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County Judge Jason Jovanovich sentenced a Rifle man to one year of probation and fines and costs of almost $10,000 on Monday for one count of animal cruelty, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

The dog was eventually euthanized.

Garfield County deputies seized a 3-year-old female mastiff named Dora from Daniel Eliseo Zepeda Perez, 37, in June. Dora weighed 74 pounds ” about half her normal body weight. She had chronic hip pain, two blown ACLs and bone damage from a hind leg injury that wasn’t healing well. Dora was apparently hit by a car when she was 9 months old.

A pathologist’s report said the injury didn’t heal and the bone damage was caused by either extreme under-use or overuse.

Dora had to drag her hind end to move while mothering a litter of five puppies. She was kept on a short cable across the driveway from an unused dog house, where she was surrounded by broken ceramic tiles and loose screws in the dirt, the sheriff’s office said.

Animal Control Officer Aimee Chappelle couldn’t be reached Thursday, but she said in a news release, “I can’t understand how such a sweet dog was allowed to suffer so greatly and in such pain.”

Divide Creek Animal Hospital and the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter tried to save Dora with “massive hours of critical care” and “thousands of dollars” worth of work, the sheriff’s office said, but Dora was too far gone and was unable to survive.

Emily Langegger, office manager at Divide Creek Animal Hospital, said she and her husband, Peter Langegger DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), kept Dora in their home at the animal hospital site for about three weeks before deciding she had to be euthanized. Dora had initially gone to CARE and another vet.

Emily Langegger said the decision to euthanize Dora was made after discussions with both Garfield County Animal Control and CARE.

“That decision was made because we had done a bone biopsy and that bone had come back damaged. She was extremely malnourished. She was having difficulty eating,” Langegger said. “I was hand feeding her canned dog food from my hand. She was walking on her front two feet but was unable to put weight on her back feet due to extreme pain. … It took two of us every morning to lift her and steady her enough just to stand up. She was in too much pain, and a dog walking on their front paws because they can’t bear to put their back feet down because it hurts so bad is no way for a dog to live.”

Langegger said Dora’s five puppies have all been adopted by “wonderful homes.” At 20 weeks old, the puppies weighed about 50 pounds ” only 24 pounds less than their full-grown mother. Seeing Dora suffer and deciding she had to be euthanized was not easy.

“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Langegger said. “I would have kept her had I thought that keeping her would have been the right thing to do and the fair thing to do.”

Dora made a big enough impression on the people she met that her caregivers cremated her and kept the ashes.

“Laying out by the pond was her favorite place to be,” Langegger said. “She’d follow you to the ends of the earth, even though she’d go on her front two legs. She was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever had the privilege to care for.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121


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