Man Suspected of Willful Abandonment near Hemet
Authorities are trying to find a man suspected of abandoning a dog at a supermarket near Hemet last week.
Store surveillance cameras captured video footage of the man’s actions at about 8 a.m. on Friday (Jan. 19). He can be spotted unloading what appears to be a pet carrier and placing it in a planter in the parking lot of a Stater Bros. Willful abandonment of an animal is considered cruelty in California.
The man’s actions happened after he shopped at the Stater Bros. store just west of the Ramona Expressway (located at 43396 Florida Ave.). The man bought milk and other items, then exited the store and loaded his groceries and then unloaded the pet carrier.
An employee discovered the dog inside the carrier and told his manager. A store manager reviewed the surveillance footage and contacted authorities. A Riverside County Animal Services officer responded and recovered the dog, a 10-year-old male Chihuahua.
“This was a tough one,” said the responding officer, Kyle Stephens. “He was so timid at first, so I didn’t get a chance to interact with him. It is somewhat strange that someone would abandon an older dog, after presumably caring for it for its life. Regardless, it is very sad and it’s also a crime.”
Leaders with Animal Services immediately started working with Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators to share photo evidence provided by a manager. Photos captured by store cameras gave law enforcement excellent images of the make and model of the man’s car – a blue, compact car, possibly a Ford. The images also provided a clear shot of the car’s license plate. However, the license plate apparently belongs to a different car.
“Our investigation needs the public’s help,” Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer said. “The plate may be bogus, but this man must be driving this same car. Also, the in-store cameras captured a clear image of the man. So we’re hopeful someone knows where this person is so we can make contact and, ultimately, interview him about his actions that day.”
The dog needs dental work, but is otherwise healthy. He remains in protective custody at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus in San Jacinto. He is not currently available for adoption, pending the cruelty investigation. Willful abandonment of an animal can be charged as a misdemeanor.