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Longmont Neighborhood Dispute Over Dog Attack Carries into Municipal Court

February 22, 2018 GMT

Courtroom B at the Longmont Municipal Court was tense Wednesday morning after both the owner of a dog that was killed by a neighbor’s dog and the neighbor made statements to the judge about the case.

In early December, Golden Bear neighborhood resident Anne Kelly was walking her miniature poodle, Isaac, near her home when a French mastiff ran up to them, grabbed Isaac and violently shook him to death.

The French mastiff, named Mia, belonged to Kelly’s neighbor, Jason Escobedo. Escobedo was working in Texas at the time of the attack. His wife, Sharmaine Cardenas, had let Mia out into the backyard that morning and Cardenas’ niece was supposed to let Mia back in the house for the day because she is an indoor dog. The niece had not let Mia back inside, however, and she escaped the backyard, according to the police report.

Escobedo was charged with owning an aggressive animal, which could carry a sentence of 180 days in jail and up to a $999 fine. He’s also charged with failing to restrain or control a dog, which could carry a sentence of 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

Kelly said she wanted Mia put down, but city animal control officers told her that Longmont law does not allow for the destruction of an animal unless it harms a human.

Both Kelly and Escobedo showed up to municipal court Wednesday for Escobedo’s arraignment. Escobedo did not enter a plea but asked for a continuance and a court-appointed attorney, both of which Judge Robert Frick granted. Escobedo is set to appear before the court again at 1:30 p.m. March 19.

Kelly was allowed to make a statement to the court. She repeated her story about the attack and added that she is asking for restitution from Escobedo in the form of paying Isaac’s vet bills, cremation costs and the $3,000 she paid to a breeder for a new puppy.

Kelly has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression and Isaac was classified as an emotional support animal, she said.

Isaac “turned my life around four years ago and really pulled me out of a hole,” Kelly told Frick. “My depression has come back since my dog was killed and the PTSD has come back since my dog was killed.”

Kelly also told the court that she still thinks that Mia should be euthanized.

“That dog is a menace to the neighborhood and I’m terrified to walk another dog on those streets,” she said.

Frick said that she would have to take her complaints to the city prosecutor and city attorney’s offices because he did not have a motion before him about the destruction of the dog.

Escobedo returned to the podium to add that Mia has been rehomed to another state.

“I just wanted to let her and the HOA community know, we don’t own dogs anymore,” said Escobedo, gesturing to Kelly in the audience. Kelly murmured, “Thank you.”

Outside the courtroom, Escobedo said that he can’t believe that Kelly would still be pushing for Mia to be put down.

“We got rid of the dog and she still wants the dog murdered. C’mon,” Escobedo said before leaving.

HOA bans on breed or size

The arraignment happened to fall on the same day that the Colorado House of Representatives held a preliminary vote on House Bill 18-1126, which would prohibit community associations such as Golden Bear from banning dogs based on their size or breed.

Since the December attack, that’s exactly what Kelly has endeavored to get Golden Bear to do, however.

Kelly originally said she wanted the HOA board to consider a ban on large dogs, but she said Wednesday that she is now asking for a ban on pit bull, French mastiff and rottweiler breeds.

The HOA board is considering the rule and will make a determination in March, but it’s not clear when, Kelly said.

Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver/Arapahoe, told The Denver Post that he introduced the bill because he noticed a few years back that he ran into housing problems when his brother went on a military deployment and Rosenthal had to watch his dog, a samoyed and golden retriever mix.

“People with big dogs are having a hard time finding a place to live,” Rosenthal told The Denver Post.

Community rules on nuisance barking, the disposal of waste and the number of dogs allowed per household would remain valid.

The bill is scheduled for a second reading before the House on Thursday.

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci