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Law officers seek man suspected of dragging dog behind car near Cortez

Dustin Edward Martinez
Dustin Edward Martinez is wanted on arrest warrant after failing to appear in Montezuma County court

A Bayfield man who failed to appear in Montezuma County District Court March 31 after he allegedly dragged his dog behind his Jeep on Colorado Highway 145 north of Cortez is now wanted on an arrest warrant.

Dustin Edward Martinez allegedly left his dog mutilated and near death after the November incident on Colorado Highway 145.

In Montezuma County, he faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals, said 22nd Judicial District Attorney Matt Margeson.

In La Plata County, Martinez had a hearing April 4 for a 2019 careless driving case that resulted in a head-on crash, said 6th Judicial Assistant District Attorney David Ottman. Martinez collided with a Toyota Tundra carrying a brother and sister from Farmington, who were treated and released at Mercy Regional Medical Center.

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Martinez was driving on the wrong side of a divided highway on U.S. Highway 550 north of the Colorado-New Mexico line and was not wearing a seat belt.

In the animal cruelty case, Martinez refused to have his 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 previously told The Journal.

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

The Journal previously 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 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 previously said he 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.