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Publish Date: 5/20/2005

Woman faces misdemeanor charges in dog attack

GREELEY — Jackie Riley will have to come up with $750 by May 27 or the family dog, accused of biting a woman, could be destroyed.

Riley appeared in a Weld County Court on Thursday to face misdemeanor charges of owning a dangerous dog that caused serious bodily injury.

Weld County deputies cited Riley after her boxer-mix, Bruni, bit Dacono resident Pamela Flanders on May 9 at Riley’s home.

Riley’s son, David, claims he owns the dog, as well as two other boxers. But Jackie Riley also said Thursday the dogs were hers.

This is the second time Riley has faced a dangerous dog charge. She received a year of probation last June when the boxers killed a cat at her house.

Judge Marcelo Kopcow told Riley she must pay a $750 bond for the dog by May 27 to cover the costs of boarding the animal at the Humane Society of Weld County.

“The court does have the right to euthanize the dog,” Kopcow said while explaining what would happen if she doesn’t come up with the money.

The judge also said Riley’s charge could be changed to a class-six felony because the most recent attack was a second offense. But Kopcow kept the charge as a misdemeanor until attorneys can determine if there’s justification for the felony charge.

Leanne Glasgow, spokeswoman for the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, said the prosecution would have to show that Bruni was the dog in the first incident for it to rise to a felony.

Riley is due in court June 27 to end her probation from the first offense. Kopcow said the court will consider this most recent biting incident during that court date and have a final decision on the severity of the charge.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Riley said after the hearing.

She said she already has paid $25,000 for court and legal fees to protect the dogs in cases related to previous incidents.

David Riley served 60 days in jail for owning a dangerous dog causing serious bodily injury after three boxers, including Bruni, attacked Rosa Storm while she was walking her dogs Sept. 3 in Firestone.

In that case, the court found that only one dog bit the woman on the hand, and two of three charges were dropped.

That case can’t be used against Jackie Riley, even though Bruni was involved, because Weld County courts don’t recognize dogs, only a history of people owning the dogs, according the the district attorney’s office.

The three dogs also attacked Adam Stutzman, 18, while Jackie Riley was present at the Coal Ridge Animal Hospital in Firestone, where the dogs stayed while David Riley awaited trial in Storm’s case. Stutzman spent four days in intensive care recovering from several bite wounds.

That incident can never be recognized in the court because handlers in dog shelters can’t seek criminal charges for animals they are caring for.

The Rileys believe Stutzman shouldn’t have been around the dogs and that the animals were protecting Jackie Riley because he made an unintentional aggressive move toward her.

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

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