A sad incident to report from earlier today:
Two dogs died and one man was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after an incident in Riverside Saturday morning.
A Riverside County Animal Services responded to a call this morning to assist Riverside Police officers in what was being investigated as a fatal stabbing of a dog. A Riverside man, Rudy Jesus Barajas, 30, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.
Officer Max Morales of Animal Services responded to the 4900 block of Hollyhock Lane in Riverside. Riverside Police officers were already on scene.
A 2-year-old, black and white pit bull, Devo, died while being transported to a local veterinarian by his owner, according to Officer Morales’ notes and statements by witnesses. A second dog, a 10-month-old poodle mix named Spunky, died after it had been attacked by Devo.
At about 9:45 a.m., Devo’s owner came out of her house when she heard a commotion. She saw her pit bull with a neighbor’s dog, a poodle, in his mouth, Morales wrote in his notes. Devo was holding the neighbor’s poodle by the neck. Three of her neighbors, including the poodle’s owner, believed to be Mr. Barajas, were next to the two dogs, trying to get Devo to release the poodle.
According to the pit bull owner’s statement, her dog was dragged by the poodle owner from the street to the poodle owner’s property, Officer Morales wrote. The poodle owner then used a knife to slit Devo’s throat. Devo ran back to his owner and collapsed in the front yard, according to Officer Morales’ notes.
Devo’s owner rushed her dog to a veterinarian but the dog died while en route.
Mr. Barajas’ stepfather, Raul Romero, told Officer Morales that the poodle was in its rightful property when the pit bull entered the yard and attacked. He said the pit bull released the poodle when his stepson grabbed the dog by the neck. The poodle was still alive, but appeared to have suffered a serious injury and shortly thereafter died, Officer Morales wrote.
Mr. Romero told the officer the pit bull tried to bite his wife’s son, so Mr. Barajas took the dog by the neck and dragged the dog inside the home, into the kitchen, and started to cut the dog’s throat, Officer Morales wrote in his report.
Based on the information provided, Mr. Barajas was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.
California law allows a property owner to protect himself and his property -- for example, their pet -- when another animal tries to attack the property owner or a family member, or the animal attacks their pet. However, the willful killing of another person’s animal can result in felony animal cruelty charges.
Based on the information provided, Officer Morales said he believed the stabbing of Devo was not necessary. The pit bull had already released the poodle, he said. And, when someone drags a dog into a house and stabs the dog, it is prolonging an incident, he said. Officers Morales said he believed the stabbing appeared to have been performed out of spite toward the pit bull’s actions and the neighbor.
Riverside Police is taking the lead in the investigation and Riverside County Animal Services will provide assistance, if and as necessary.
“We full understand how upset someone can get when another person’s pet attacks their dog,” Animal Services Director Robert Miller said. “But no one has the right to take matters into their own hands, as what is being alleged in this particular incident. We intend to support Riverside Police to the fullest extent in this matter.”
Miller said this incident also illustrates the importance of providing a secure property.
“Dog owners, especially owners of dogs who may have more assertive tendencies, need to do everything they can to keep their pet inside their own property’s boundaries,” Miller said. “Tragic incidents, such as this one, can be better prevented when people have strong fences or tall walls or secure gates.”