Injured soldier claims his dog was sold and then euthanized

Posted By elaine on January 18, 2011


Ava during happier times

When a soldier is deployed in a war zone they have a lot to worry about. For one soldier his worry was his American Bulldog, Ava. That worry was put to rest when a local dog training business stepped up and said that they would keep Ava safe. It seemed like a perfect solution, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.

Sergeant Chris Dillon says that Ava was his buddy, a six month old pup when he was deployed. His family was taking care of her, but they couldn’t keep her any longer. Dillon says that is when Scott Martin and his girlfriend April Hand, owners of Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers, stepped in and said they would keep her until Dillon returned, claiming it was all part of a program they did to help soldiers.

After taking in Ava last June, Martin and Hand contacted News First 5 to tell them about the program, saying that they would take care of all the dog’s needs including vet care, training, and placement into a good foster home. They said that all donations that they received for the program would go to keeping the soldier’s dog safe.ava2

“This is man’s best friend,” Scott Martin told News First 5. “Why go serve their country and then have to lose their dog as well.”

But Dillon did lose his dog, and claims that Martin sold Ava to another military couple, who ended up having her put to sleep.

Dillon says that he called Martin when he still in Iraq and was about a week away from coming home. Martin said that Ava was fine and that as soon as the soldier was treated for injuries he sustained in Iraq they would send Ava to where Dillon was stationed in Washington.

“I called him a couple of weeks after I got back,” claims Dillon. “I told him my whole situation and they’re like, oh, don’t worry about it, it’s not going to cost you anything. When you get back and get everything settled and have your surgery, we’ll get your dog back to you.”

After several weeks went by and Dillon still hadn’t heard from Martin he called again, but for weeks Martin didn’t return his calls. Eventually he did get a hold of Martin who told him that Ava was adopted out and the new owners didn’t want to be contacted, but Martin would see to it that Dillon would get his dog back.

 “He was like oh yeah, Ava’s doing fine we’ll work on getting transportation for her to get her down there to you,” Dillion says Martin told him. “3 or 4 weeks went by and I didn’t have any contact from him.”

He never heard from Martin again.


Ava's owner Sgt Chris Dillon

Dillon then found out that Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers had gone out of business and Martin and Hand changed their numbers.

A group of concern folks then joined Dillon in the search for missing Ava. They hit the internet and local rescue groups with pictures. They found out this week that Ava had been sold for 350-dollars in September to a military couple that had just moved to the area. Shortly after they got her they say that Ava started getting aggressive with their other dog. They took her to a vet that did some temperament testing and they recommended that Ava be put down, and the new owners agreed. Dillon however says that Ava showed to aggression when he had her and wonders what made her aggressive, or if she even was aggressive.

“I don’t even know for a fact if she was aggressive,” say Dillion. “I don’t know about you, but if I adopt a dog, I ‘m gonna give a little more than 3 days to settle into my house.”

Dillon says he is considering a lawsuit against Martin and Hand. It won’t be the first time Martin has been in trouble with the law. In 2003 Martin was convicted of Felony Menacing and Vehicular Eluding in Fremont County and he is currently accused of Felony Identity Theft. His trial is scheduled in April.

We tried to contact the couple who adopted Ava and they declined an interview. We have also attempted to contact Scott Martin and April Hand, neither of which has returned our messages.

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9 Responses to “Injured soldier claims his dog was sold and then euthanized”

  1. Sheena says:

    Appalling to say the least. The people that adopted the dog should’ve returned the dog to Martin instead of having it euthenized. Did that not take into account that this was this soldier’s dog to begin with? I’m sure by now the guilt is eating them up and so should. As for Martin and Hand…their day is coming in court. They’re ruined now and will always be tracked as to what scam business they embark on next.

  2. elaine says:

    I don’t think they knew that Ava belonged to anyone other than Scott Martin. I think they are victims too.

  3. Tamara says:

    This is a horrible story, I use to have 2 american bulldogs and they were great dogs that never were aggressive. American Bulldogs are very lovable animals that quickly become part of the family. I can’t believe Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers would do this to a soldier that is deployed. Scott Martin and April Hand deserve to be in jail. I can’t believe that the couple that bought Ava didn’t try to give her to another family without other dogs before just euthenizing her. This is such an unfair situation for Sgt Chris Dillon and Ava.

  4. Sheila says:

    This situation should not have happened and is unacceptable to say the least. Ava was left in the trusting hands of Martin & Hand and if any trouble with the business came up, they had a duty to contact Sgt. Chris Dillon to inquire about what his wishes were. Chris, If I were you I would also consider a lawsuit very strongly. If this happened to one of my dogs, I would not stop until justice was served! Chris, I am so so sorry for the loss of your buddy Ava. My thoughts and prayers go out to you!

  5. Tasha says:

    How unbelievably sad. For a “business” to offer what sounds like such a wonderful program for our service men and women only to turn out to be a fraud. I hope for them to be punished to the furthest extent possible.

  6. Jeanine says:

    How low can you go, here is a solider giving his life for both you and I, and you promise to care for his one love his dog, I hope you never get hurt or deceived like that.

  7. Naomi says:

    A lot of times when dogs are put down for ‘agressiveness’, the people who make the desision don’t know much about dogs at all, much less training. I’m not saying that’s the case all the time, but it’s certainly horrible when the dog just needs some time and training put in and the ignorant owner just says “kill it”. It happened to my dog, he was abused and abandoned before we rescued him. I left my mom to baby-sit him and I witnessed him bite her multiple times. But he only did it when it was time for the crate or the leash, he just needed some training-and it started to work! He became less agressive, but when tight finances meant I couldn’t keep him or train him after all my work to rescue him, left him with my mom, who I thought would continue his training in spite of his bad temper. Instead, she had him put down because he just kept biting her and drawing blood-she was afraid he would hurt my younger sister…and I really no longer had any say in the matter, but I was still angry about her descision.

    If Ava was my dog I’d be pissed..beyond pissed, I’d be livid, sad, even enraged and I would press charges against Martin and Hand to the full extent of the law, as for the owners who had her put down…I’d want to know their side of the story before making judgements, but if they were at fault as well, I’d want to prosecute them as well and at least get her collar back if they had it…

    -Sigh- This is just a very sad story… :/

  8. Jayne Matthews (UK) says:

    Chris, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your buddy because of the vile scum that conned us all. Scott RMDT was also a friend of mine on Facebook, but one day he just wasn’t there any more and I never thought any more of it, until this started to come to light.

    I also firmly believe that you should pursue a law suit against Scott and April and look into the truth behind the other people that had him. Also if they are claiming that the vet advised euthanasia I would look into his practice as well. What vet worthy of their qualifications would automatically jump to that conclusion after 3 days!!!! All animals need a chance to settle in and 3 days is not enough time to come to that kind of decision.

    RIP Ava baby, know that daddy loved you and we all did our best here on FB. Run and play on Rainbow Bridge with all the other furbabies we have all loved and lost and hopefully we will have the honour of meeting you there one day.

  9. Chea says:

    I think this whole thing is ridiculous, and feel very sorry this man and his puppy. A dog to many people is family not just an animal.

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