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Publish Date: 5/8/2005

Dogs involved in attacks are back in Firestone; owner says they’re safe


FIRESTONE — David Riley is out of jail and back in town with at least one of his three dogs that were involved in recent attacks, despite efforts by his neighbors to keep the animals away.

Riley was released from jail last Sunday after serving 60 days for owning a vicious dog that caused serious bodily injury.

He now says his pets will no longer attack people or other animals because they have been well-trained.

“They’ve spent a couple months at the Colorado Dog Academy,” he said.

Three of Riley’s boxers were seized after one bit Firestone resident Rosa Storm on her hand Sept. 3 while she was walking her Siberian huskies. All three of Riley’s dogs charged her during the incident.

Riley’s pets have terrified some of his neighbors for some time, and they wanted to see the animals taken away for good during Storm’s court case. But prosecutors had to settle on a lesser count because they couldn’t show a history of attacks, despite at least two other incidents.

The three boxers attacked handler Adam Stutzman, 18, at Coal Ridge Animal Hospital, where the dogs were impounded while Riley waited for trial in Storm’s case. Stutzman spent four days in intensive care recovering from several severe wounds.

That incident, however, never came up in court because state law doesn’t allow handlers to seek criminal charges if they are bitten by animals they are caring for.

At least two of the dogs also killed a cat last year, an incident that also wasn’t brought up in Riley’s trial because his mother, Jackie, was charged as the owner in that incident.

Courts don’t recognize dogs, only their owners, so the cat incident couldn’t be connected to Riley during his trial.

These loopholes allowed Riley to appear in court without a history of owning a vicious dog, shackling the judge’s authority to have the dogs euthanized.

Upon Riley’s release from jail, he was able to pick up his three pets from Colorado Dog Academy in Broomfield, where they were being trained while Riley was in jail.

Riley told the Daily Times-Call this week that one dog, a female, is with him in Firestone and two males are on a farm outside of town. He said the dogs won’t attack people or chase cats now that they have been properly trained.

“They really taught them good,” Riley said.

Officials from Colorado Dog Academy wouldn’t comment on the matter.

Riley also said his family has sold its home in Firestone, but he is still living in town.

“I’m planning on moving out once I can find a small place,” he said. “We plan to get out of cities and towns.”

On March 10, a handful of Riley’s neighbors asked the Firestone Board of Trustees to help keep the dogs out of town. Mayor Mike Simone said then that the board wants to do everything it can.

The board revised an ordinance that limits to two the number of animals a resident can have in an outdoor kennel, town attorney Sam Light said Friday.

He also said prosecutors are looking into the possibility that a town ordinance on vicious animals can be used to get the remaining dog out of town.

Riley said a prosecutor, indeed, is seeking more punishment for his dogs, though he’s not sure why.

His neighbors declined to comment.

Douglas Crowl can be reached at 303-684-5253, or by e-mail at dcrowl@ times-call.com.

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