Aspen pet store owner’s dog banned from CB Paws
ASPEN – An Aspen pet store owner’s dog is on a tight leash these days – so tight that the canine can’t visit CB Paws for the next year.
That’s one of the provisions in a deferred prosecution that was accepted by CB Paws owner Steve Fante on Wednesday in Aspen Municipal Court.
The deal comes after Fante was cited by Aspen police in October for keeping a vicious dog, in this case Baxter, a 5-year-old border collie that hangs out with Fante at CB Paws.
The victim, a 25-year-old woman, told police the unprovoked bite came as she put out her hand when the dog approached her. Fante wasn’t in the store at the time of the incident.
The woman received stitches for the bite wound, and Fante, as part of the deferred prosecution, agreed to pay the victim’s out-of-pocket medical expenses. The deferred prosecution means that Fante won’t be charged if Baxter stays out of trouble for the next year. Fante also can’t leave Baxter unattended when it’s on a leash.
Baxter’s attorney, Lawson Wills, told prosecutor Jim True and Judge Brooke Peterson that Fante is a responsible dog owner with a “difficult dog.”
“Steve has spent a ton of time trying to modify the dog’s behavior,” Wills said. “This is not a situation of a neglected dog in any way, shape or form.”
Fante said he’s had a tough time getting Baxter, which he claimed from a mission rescue shelter in Denver, to behave nicely.
“Border collies have a tendency to nip as a response,” Fante told the judge. “If you train a dog to show any aggression, then they don’t nip. We haven’t had any incident since then and we won’t have the dog in the store for now on.”
Fante also apologized to the victim, and was ordered to pay $100 in court costs.
The October incident apparently wasn’t the only time Baxter bit a visitor to CB Paws. On Tuesday, Illinois resident Barry Cohen filed a negligence lawsuit against Fante and CB paws in Pitkin County District Court.
The suit alleges Baxter bit Cohen on Aug. 10, 2009, when Cohen “reached down gently to pet the dog.” The suit says Fante warned Cohen to not extend his hand toward Baxter, but it was too late. The suit also claims that Cohen had to get medical treatment for the bite, “and his ability to enjoy that vacation were interrupted.” Additionally, Cohen “has permanent disfigurement on his hand as a result of the dog bite,” the suit says.
Wills said that while Fante bears responsibility for October’s bite, the August incident described in the lawsuit would not have happened had Cohen heeded Fante’s warning.
“At some point the person has to take some responsibility,” Wills said.
Fante said he will stand behind Baxter, and he still sees potential in the border collie.
“Baxter is a tough dog but a good dog,” he said.
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.