Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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December 22, 2006
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Animal control officer sentenced in dog attack

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The Garfield County Sheriff Office's animal control officer has pleaded guilty to ownership of a vicious dog after one of her pets attacked someone in mid-October.Sheriff Lou Vallario said the animal, which he believes was a pit bull, was destroyed following the attack.Deputy Aimee Chappelle pleaded guilty Dec. 6 in county court in Rifle. She paid a fine, was given a one-year deferred sentence and was ordered to perform 16 hours of community service.Vallario said the incident occurred in mid-October while Chappelle was out of town for training and someone else was watching her dogs in Battlement Mesa. The victim was handing out flyers when he was attacked, Vallario said."Apparently this dog jumped over the fence and bit him on the ankle," Vallario said.Chappelle was cited upon her return from training."She was treated like anyone else in the county," Vallario said.He said Chappelle stepped up and accepted responsibility for the incident, and it won't have any impact on her job. But his office is reviewing whether it will continue to allow her use of a personal dog for public education programs. Vallario said Chappelle has a "mellow" pit bull that she has used for that purpose, and it hasn't seemed to be a problem. In the future, it may be that only the department's own dogs should participate in such programs, he said."It's something that we're looking into internally," he said. "It's different if it's one of our canines."Chappelle, who could not be reached for comment, "kind of has a fondness" for pit bulls, Vallario said. But all he knew for sure about the dog involved in the attack is that the victim described it as being little and was surprised it had been able to jump the fence.Chappelle's affinity for the breed has drawn some criticism from pit bull opponents. Rob Snyder, who lives south of Glenwood Springs, is among those who say comments made by Chappelle following a September pit bull attack in the Silt area appear to put blame on the elderly victim, Judy McGruder.McGruder received about 200 stitches after the attack.Snyder, whose dog suffered a pit bull attack this summer, said Chappelle made it sound like McGruder "did something to provoke the dog that mauled her."Said Snyder, "Here's a woman who's charged with protecting the public safety. It's becoming apparent in my mind that these (pit bulls) are pretty darned dangerous in the wrong hands. She's not doing her job if she's thinking there's nothing wrong with the dogs."Chappelle's case involves another figure who has gained prominence in the growing local debate over pit bulls. She was sentenced by Judge Jason Jovanovich. While sentencing the owner of the dog that attacked McGruder, Jovanovich reportedly said that if he could, he would kill all pit bulls, and that they should be illegal to own.Meanwhile, charges against Snyder have been dismissed in connection with his encounter with pit bulls in his neighborhood. The sheriff's department had cited him for dog-at-large and dog licensing violations after his dogs ran up to Nancy Crenshaw's two pit bulls. The pit bulls attacked one of Snyder's dogs, he says.The District Attorney's Office later charged Crenshaw with unlawful ownership of a dangerous dog, a misdemeanor. Then it dropped the charge based on new information that made conviction unlikely, court records indicate. Deputy DA Katie Steers, who handled the case, could not be reached for comment Friday.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 26, 2006 01:56AM Published Dec 22, 2006 02:00AM Copyright 2006 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.