A municipal judge Wednesday scolded the owner of a 13-year-old dog with a history of biting people, and ordered the canine to leave Aspen.
And if Gizmo, a Pomeranian, is seen in Aspen again, it will be put to death, Judge Brooke Peterson told the dog's owner, West End resident Melinda Goldrich.
"As a judge, the hardest decision I ever have to make is to take someone's pet away or euthanize it," Peterson told Goldrich. "But you and I have been dealing with your dog since 2006 ... and your excuses have worn out my patience."
Goldrich appeared in court to answer the municipal charge of keeping of a vicious dog, after Gizmo bit a worker at the Aspen Club on Aug. 28. Gizmo had been tied to a fence when it snapped at the ankle of Susan Dodington, who visited it and three other dogs who were barking loudly.
Dodington testified that she went to pet the dogs hoping to calm them down. But when Gizmo bit her, she called the police. She did not receive medical attention for the bite.
Goldrich had been under a court order issued in March - after Gizmo bit somebody in February - to not leave Gizmo unattended, even if he was on a leash. She also had been cited in 2006 for keeping a vicious dog.
Peterson chided Goldrich for ignoring his court order.
"You have continually defied me and you have blown me off," he said.
After last month's incident, Gizmo served 10 days in the Aspen Animal Shelter. He was released Sept. 8.
Goldrich said in the most recent incident, she went to the Aspen Club to pay a bill, and tied up Gizmo, along with three other dogs she owned, thinking she would only be inside for a few minutes. However, the dogs were left unattended for nearly 25 minutes because of what Goldrich said were credit card hassles when she tried to pay the bill.
Still, she admitted she made a mistake.
"He's basically a sweet dog," she told the judge. "I'm the one who put him in these circumstances. He's not running up to people and biting them."
She added: "Basically I really screwed up in this circumstance. I did violate what I agreed upon."
Attending the court hearing were two people - one who lives in Gunnison County, the other from Eagle County - who said they would take care of Gizmo on Goldrich's behalf. The Eagle County resident, who resides in Reudi Shores, ultimately won the assignment. The resident said he would take care of Gizmo and make sure he doesn't bite anybody.
"I put the responsibility on me," Goldrich said. "I want him to survive. I would rather see him live out the rest of his life."
Peterson said this is Gizmo's last chance, and served up some blistering commentary about Goldrich's role as a dog owner.
"If I find out the dog is back in the community I will order animal control officers to take the dog and euthanize it," he said. "Without question, you are irresponsible. You don't listen to what I say and you have put us all in a very precarious position."