Aurora city council vows to change law after dog put down before owner could appeal

AURORA, Colo. -- In a FOX31 Problem Solvers follow-up, Aurora City Council members have now vowed to change the law one week after the city put a dog down before the owner could appeal a judge's decision.

We first told you about a mixed-breed dog named Blu who bit a woman when she tried to break up a dog fight after her dog got into Blu's yard.

The dog had been held at the Aurora Animal Shelter since Dec. 13.

On Jan. 4, a judge ordered the dog be released to his owner, Tracey Prim. As part of the judge’s order, Prim was to put a muzzle on her dog when she arrived to pick him up.

However, the muzzle slipped off after Prim’s first try and she was not able to successfully put the muzzle back on the dog within five minutes before an animal protection officer ordered her to stop trying.

Aurora Animal Services then filed an appeal asking Judge FitzGerald to reconsider his “Order of Release” because animal protection officers considered the dog vicious, testifying it would snap at its handler when Prim or her brother attempted to muzzle the dog.

Two days later, Blu was euthanized before Prim could file a legal motion to stop it. Now, some City Council members say the move was unfair and unwise.

"He was a big part of our family and I just can't believe that they would just treat him like it was nothing," Prim said. Prim got a DNA test awhile back to prove that Blu was not a pit bull. However, when she brought Blu to the Aurora Animal Shelter a few weeks later to be neutered, her dog was confiscated.

Charles Richardson with the Aurora City Council was surprised by the quick turn around.

"By the time we got our paperwork put in place, it was too late. They had already euthanized him," Richardson said.

Richardson is now proposing an ordinance so that this will never happen again. He used to be the city attorney for Aurora and tells the Problem Solvers he is outraged by the lack of due process he says was given to Prim.

"This owner had no effective, practical opportunity to get legal counsel and it's unacceptable," Richardson said.

Richardson plans to introduce an ordinance that would give an automatic seven-day stay of execution once a dog has been surrendered. That way, pet owners would have the time to file an appeal. Richardson also wants the city to pay the boarding fees so someone like Prim can focus on finding an attorney.

Prim agrees with Richardson.

"No one should have to go through what we went through, especially with a dog," she said.

"I am still, as you can tell, very upset. The city of Aurora, as we have in the past, seemed to bungle these high-profile dog cases," Richardson said.

Richardson thinks he has the support of other council members and hopes to fast track his measure, meaning it could become a city ordinance within about two months.

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