Vicious dog’s owner pleads guilty after downtown attack
Aspen Times Staff Writer
An Oklahoma woman will pay more than $1,600 in fines and restitution after pleading guilty Wednesday to a pair of violations stemming from a vicious dog attack Tuesday in downtown Aspen.
Lori Juntila was fined $500 by municipal court Judge Pip Porter for keeping a vicious dog and letting the dog run loose after the animal jumped out of an open car window and killed a toy poodle in front of shocked passersby and the poodle’s owner.
In addition, she agreed to pay $1,140.57 in restitution to Aspen resident Bartlett (she goes by just one name), the poodle’s owner.
The restitution will cover the $600 value of the poodle, Fifi, plus Bartlett’s medical expenses. One of her fingers was bitten in the melee, according to David Hoefer, assistant city attorney, who recommended the penalties.
The $500 fine is consistent with what has been levied in other local cases of a pet killing another pet, he said.
Bartlett’s tiny dog was mauled to death when Juntila’s large dog, Pooh, reportedly a chow-Labrador mix, leapt from her vehicle and attacked the 5-pound Fifi, whom Bartlett was walking on a leash. The incident occurred at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Mill Street. Juntila was eventually able to pull her dog off its victim.
“Oh, my God, it was so traumatic. It was just a nightmare,” Bartlett said. “Three chomps and she was gone.”
Bartlett, who had owned 5-year-old Fifi since she was a pup, broke briefly into tears as she talked about her beloved pet yesterday after the hearing.
“She didn’t really have a fighting chance,” she said.
Bartlett has nothing but praise, though, for an Aspen firefighter who appeared at the scene to scoop up Fifi and drive Bartlett and her dog to the Aspen Animal Hospital in a fire truck. Fifi died in Bartlett’s arms en route to the veterinarian.
Juntila will be allowed to pay off the fine and restitution in $140 monthly payments. Bartlett will be repaid first; then the city will collect its fine, Hoefer said.
Juntila was also given a year of probation, subject to several conditions: that her dog be kept on a leash whenever it is off her property, that the dog be quarantined for 10 days (which can be done after she returns home to the Tulsa area), that she pays the kennel costs for impounding her dog in Aspen for one night, and that Oklahoma authorities be notified of the case and the conditions of her probation.
Juntila has purchased a muzzle for her dog, which she displayed for the judge during the hearing. She picked up her dog from the kennel yesterday after the court proceedings concluded.
Juntila displayed genuine remorse for the incident, according to Bartlett. “I feel real sorry for her,” she said.
Bartlett did not request that Juntila’s dog be destroyed.
“I don’t have any interest in having it killed, but I hope they keep it muzzled,” she said.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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