FRIDAY, Feb. 27 – A dog that was part of a Riverside County Animal Services suspected cruelty investigation is now missing, according to the dog's owner.
County animal control officers executed a search warrant for the dog Thursday afternoon (Feb. 26) at a
Riverside property — but the dog was not in its yard.
Shortly after the search warrant was served, a Riverside Police representative contacted a Riverside County Animal Services animal control officer and said the dog owner had told the police department that her dog had been taken.
The county does not have the dog. Riverside County Animal Services' officers, based on posts on social media, suspect the dog may have been taken from the owner's Fetlock Way property by a person or persons.
The dog, a female pit bull mix, has been the subject of social-media posts on Facebook for about a week.
A photo of the pit bull mix was posted by a neighbor of the owner. In a photo on that social-media post, the dog appears severely underweight. The Facebook post described the dog as "starving." Riverside County Animal Services sent officers to the property on Tuesday (Feb. 24) to investigate its health. The officers observed the dog, photographed him and recorded video of the dog. The dog was described by the officers as thin, but also very energetic and even a bit hyper.
The dog's health did not appear to be exigent, which would have allowed the officers to immediately seize the
animal, per state-law guidelines.
Nonetheless, the officers tried to discuss the dog's health with his owner. The owner declined to speak with the animal control officers. Ultimately, an animal control officer issued a notice of violation, mandating that the dog's owner take the dog to a California-licensed veterinarian for a thorough examination. The owner had 48 hours to comply.
Between the time period when officers had issued the notice of violation and by Thursday's deadline, the dog was presumably taken from its yard.
"If this dog was truly stolen from its yard, the person or persons who did this have now impeded our investigation," Animal Services Director Robert Miller said. "We were just about to seize this animal, if it had not been seen properly by a veterinarian, and now we have lost the chain of custody. This is a serious issue."
Miller said that the dog can be surrendered to Riverside County Animal Services without punitive measures pursued by the department. The person can use one of the night-drop compartments at the county's main shelter at 6851 Van Buren Blvd., within the city of Jurupa Valley, or provide a location for the dog.
"Someone has acted in the spirit of helping this dog, but when someone thinks with their heart instead of their head, they are doing more harm than good," Miller said. "The person who has this dog now needs to do the right thing. Return the dog, or let us know where the dog is located so we can re-establish a chain of custody."
Some people on Facebook have alluded to a lack of concern or response from Riverside County Animal Services.
To date, Riverside County Animal Services has responded to this property roughly a dozen times in the past
three years. Four dogs belonging to the Fetlock Way property in question have been impounded. Approximately 15 citations have been issued to the dog owner for a various violations. The citations include: leash law violations, kennel violations and failure-to-license citations and duty-to-restrain citations.