Steamboat man arrested on suspicion of killing his dog, throwing it off bridge
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs man was arrested Saturday after admitting to police he killed his own dog and threw it off a bridge in town.
Christopher Dyer, 31, faces a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, for needlessly killing an animal, according to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Routt County Justice Center.
The arrest comes as the Colorado House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would provide mental health treatment to people who abuse animals, as well as restrict their ability to own a pet.
Steamboat Spring Police Department officers received a call late Friday from Dyer, who reported his own dog had bitten him. He went to the emergency room for two puncture wounds on his face, including one under his chin that required four stitches.
Officers met Dyer at the emergency room shortly after midnight Saturday and questioned him about the incident.
He told them that earlier in the night, he had been playing with his dog Apollo, a pit bull-mastiff mix. When the dog’s playful nips turned to more aggressive biting, Dyer tried to hold Apollo down to calm him.
The dog lunged at Dyer, who tried again to restrain him, according to the affidavit. Dyer’s hand slipped, and he lost his grip. Apollo lunged again and bit at his throat.
Initially, Dyer told officers he had thrown the dog in his kennel before heading to the emergency room and that Apollo was waiting in the kennel. Officers warned him that Apollo would likely attack Dyer again if the dog stayed at his house. He assured officers that he planned to put the dog down.
When officers asked Dyer for proof that Apollo was up-to-date on his vaccinations, he said he had the paperwork back home. Officers gave Dyer a courtesy ride from the emergency room to his house and waited as he searched for the vaccination papers.
About five minutes later, he burst out of the front door.
“I’m just going to come clean,” he told officers. “I killed him.”
Dyer said he knew what he did was wrong and he had been too embarrassed to admit it.
When officers asked Dyer what happened, he said, “I knocked him out at the bridge down by the river, over by Stockbridge,” according to the affidavit. He was referring to the bridge that crosses over the Yampa River located behind the transit center.
According to the affidavit, Dyer was upset after Apollo bit him. He told officers he hit Apollo’s head repeatedly on the bridge’s metal railing until he believed the dog was unconscious. Then he threw his pet off the bridge into the river, where he assumed the dog died and floated away.
When officers asked Dyer why he didn’t instead call the police, he said, “Honestly, I blacked out. I’ve never done anything so heinous before.”
After killing his dog, he went back to his house and had a beer before taking a taxi to the emergency room, according to the affidavit.
Dyer posted a $2,000 cash bail and is scheduled to appear bond before the Routt County Court on April 2.
Legislation headed to Senate
Lawmakers, seeing a link between animal abuse and more violent criminal behavior, have proposed legislation to identify potentially dangerous individuals before they hurt people.
The Colorado House passed a new bill Tuesday that would provide more mental health treatment for those convicted of animal cruelty. It would also prevent people from having a pet animal for a period of time while they undergo treatment.
Rep. Alex Valdez, the sponsor of the bill, said its proposed benefits are two-fold: it removes animals from abusive situations and identifies behaviors that could lead to worse crimes.
“There is absolutely a correlation between crimes against animals and violent crimes such as mass shootings or domestic terrorism,” Valdez said in a news release.
She and other legislators cited a 2014 study of mass shootings, which found that 43 percent of school shooters had a history of animal abuse.
The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 55-7 on Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate.