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Courts and Crime

Bayfield man suspected of mutilating dog by dragging it behind his car near Cortez

Dustin Edward Martinez
Sheriff: Dustin Edward Martinez refused to have his dog euthanized after a witness took him and his dog to vet

A Bayfield man was arrested Friday after dragging his dog behind his Jeep on Colorado Highway 145 north of Cortez last month, reportedly leaving the animal mutilated and near death.

Dustin Edward Martinez, 40, refused to have the dog euthanized after a witness transported them to a veterinarian’s office, according to a Montezuma County Sheriff’s incident report.

It is believed that the young black Labrador later died because of the severity of its injuries, Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said Wednesday. Nowlin said he hasn’t been able to interview Martinez for additional information about the dog’s condition.

Martinez was taken into custody at the Montezuma County Detention Center for animal cruelty after the Nov. 2 incident and on a warrant for violating his probation regarding careless driving that resulted in injury in La Plata County, Nowlin said.

Martinez’s criminal record also includes a 2005 case out of La Plata County in which he pleaded guilty to sex assault of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The dog case unnerved Nowlin, who said he’s very passionate about bringing justice to animal cruelty cases. He said he wants Martinez to be prosecuted to the maximum possible sentence.

“It was pretty disturbing,” he said.

The Journal decided not to publish photos of the dog because of the severity of its injuries. Photos showed the dog bloodied, with its fur rubbed away down to the bone in several areas of its legs. The dog’s legs were bent unnaturally, while a sling appeared to hold one leg to its body.

Nowlin said he has found no reasoning behind Martinez’s actions.

A woman was driving south on Colorado Highway 145 when she noticed Martinez’s red 2007 Grand Cherokee Jeep pulling something as it traveled south on Colorado 145 from Colorado Highway 184, according to the incident report.

As she got closer, she realized the Jeep was dragging a dog.

She then urged the driver to pull over, noticing the dog was severely injured, the report said.

The woman urged Martinez to take the dog to an animal clinic, and when that facility was too busy to treat the dog, she drove Martinez and his dog in her own car to Vibrant Pet Animal Hospital in Cortez, the report said.

There, the veterinarian told Martinez that his dog should be euthanized because “mutilated trauma was not survivable” – at which point Martinez became angry and left with the dog, the incident report said.

The witness reportedly called the Cortez Communication Center, but no officers responded, the incident report said. The witness and veterinarian were deeply upset, Nowlin said.

The veterinarian who cared for the dog declined to comment.

Martinez was scheduled for a pretrial conference in Montezuma County Court on Dec. 7.