Steamboat Springs Kelly Doran has no qualms admitting she is a dog owner who has, in the past, paid little or no mind to leash laws in Steamboat Springs.
But after repeated violations, Doran hopes it is not too late to mend her ways and perhaps save the life of Powder, one of her two border collie mixes.
But city officials warned that it may be too late for Powder, who has accumulated numerous vicious-dog citations and may not be able correct his aggressive behavior.
A trial on Powder's most recent vicious dog citation is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Powder's most recent troubles began June 24, when Doran said she had both of her dogs, Powder and Daffy, tied to a tree near Double Z restaurant for an hour-and-a-half while she was inside the restaurant.
Powder allegedly became aggressive with two teen-agers, she said.
Assistant City Attorney Colette Erickson said it's her understanding the dog bit both teen-agers, who responded by filing vicious-dog complaints.
Powder received his first vicious dog citation about a year-and-a-half ago and, at the time of the latest citation, Doran was on two years' probation for receiving numerous leash-law and nuisance citations, Erickson said.
"I feel like we've been working with (Doran) for a long time," Erickson said, adding that Doran's citations date back to 1998.
State statutes concerning dog bites and rabies require that Powder be put in quarantine for 10 days following the June 24 incident. Such quarantines are commonly completed in an animal shelter.
However, Doran was allowed to take the dog home on June 24 under the condition that she produce proof of rabies vaccination the next day and that she adhere to the 10-day quarantine at her home.
"Once I called in the rabies tag number, I thought I was able to take them out," Doran said, claiming that the scene at Double Z was hectic and that she misunderstood the conditions required to take Powder home.
On June 25, Doran took Powder and Daffy on a walk and was cited by a Steamboat Spring police officer who said the dogs were off their leashes, Erickson said.
Furthermore, Powder ran into a neighbor's yard later that day and allegedly bit another dog. That resulted in Powder's fourth vicious dog citation. He was taken to the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter and kept there for 32 days until a hearing in the Steamboat Springs Municipal Court on July 26.
At the hearing, Doran and her lawyer presented 115 signatures from community members and 36 businesses attesting that Powder was not a vicious dog. Included with the signatures were letters from friends, a veterinary technician and her Reverend asking for Powder's release and vouching for Doran's ability to care for the animal.
Community members also helped Doran build a $1,400, 300-square-foot dog fence in her downtown home to keep Powder from getting out. She also entered Powder into a dog training school and said she talked to animal experts to learn the importance of keeping her animals on leashes when walking them and not tying them up for a long period of time in a public place.
"I was just trying to find out what I was doing wrong," she said.
Doran said her biggest fear is that Powder will be euthanized because of the repeated citations.
A trial date is set for Aug. 9 for Powder's three vicious-dog citations.
"It's certainly possible that the court could order the dog to be euthanized," Erickson said.
Doran also faces fines from $1 to $999 and up to six months in jail. She maintains that if a punishment is going to be handed out, it should be her that takes the brunt, not Powder.
But Erickson said it might not be that simple.
"There is the opinion out there that the dog's behavior is not going to change," Erickson said.
Powder is 3-year-old male that is not neutered. Erickson said veterinarians with whom the city has consulted have determined that an unfixed male with aggressive behavior will have a hard time breaking those habits even if it is neutered.
"Powder is not a vicious dog," Doran said as Powder licked her. "He was put in a fearful situation because of me."