Case Snapshot
Case ID: 7046
Classification: Theft, Fighting
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Friday, Apr 22, 2005

County: Converse

Charges: Felony Non-CTA
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Ruben Pacheco

A man who prosecutors say broke into the Douglas Animal Shelter to take back several pit bulls scheduled for euthanasia was bound over for trial in 8th District Court on a felony burglary charge.

Reuben Pacheco, 37, was first arrested in March 2005 on 11 counts of animal cruelty when police officers responded to a dog fight. The 11 pit bulls, ranging in age from puppies to 10 years old, were impounded at the shelter after a veterinarian treated two for bite wounds and deemed all the dogs severely neglected and possibly abused, a court affidavit stated.

Pleading guilty to the cruelty counts in Circuit Court, Pacheco served 13 days in jail and was sentenced to six months of probation, during which time he was banned from owning any animals, according to court documents. Judge Vince Case also ordered the 11 canines, suspected of being used as fighting dogs, put down.

After Pacheco was released from jail on April 5, someone cut through the shelter's chain-link fence and broke five of the pit bulls out from the animal shelter, prosecutors say. At the scene, investigators found tire tracks and shoe prints n one tennis shoe and one boot, the same footwear Pacheco had left jail wearing. The Douglas shelter is run by the nonprofit group Friends of the Animals. Board member Kim Pynchon said fortunately, no other animals escaped when the fence was cut.

"These were potentially fighting pit bulls," she said, and staff members had been instructed not to handle the dogs and to keep them separated from other animals. At the shelter's request, the Humane Society offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever broke into the shelter and stole the animals.

A warrant for Pacheco's arrest was issued April 22, but by then, the man had apparently fled. Finally, on Dec. 29, police in Fairplay, Colo., picked Pacheco up on the Wyoming warrant.

Pacheco was the same man who fell into disfavor with law enforcement officials in Leadville, Colo., in 2002 when a Denver television station, KUSA, exposed him for keeping 22 pit bulls chained to trees, Converse County Undersheriff Steve Nunez said.

Pacheco is now charged with felony burglary, which is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and 10 years in jail. He is being held in the Converse County jail on a $20,000 cash bond after Case bound the charges over to District Court Jan. 3. An arraignment hearing is set Feb. 2 in District Court.


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