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It’s Unknown if Incident Was Drunken Accident

Animal Services veterinary team members are caring for a dog that was shot by its owner in the early-morning hours Sunday.

Riverside County Animal Services Officer Sean Fazio responded to a call from the Riverside Police Department at about 3 a.m. (June 7) in the 4600 block of Gardena Drive, a few blocks west of the Riverside Plaza. Riverside Police officers were already on scene after receiving a call regarding gunshots.

Officer Fazio was led by an RPD officer into a backyard where a large dog was lying on its side and appeared to have a bullet wound in its right shoulder.

“I was told that two men living at the house had been under the influence of alcohol and started shooting a firearm in the backyard,” Officer Fazio reported. “At one point the owner apparently shot his dog.”

The dog, a male, 3-year-old black Labrador mix was unresponsive to his flashlight and to the officer’s touch. He loaded the dog and rushed him to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Grand Terrace, a 24-hour veterinary hospital that Animal Services contracts with for such serious, after-hours incidents.

The dog, Spartacus, has since been transported to the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley where he is on an IV drip and pain medications. Dr. Sara Strongin, a staff veterinarian, said it is too soon to determine if Spartacus can survive the gunshot. He is under close observation.

Riverside Police had detained two men in the front yard and informed Officer Fazio a second dog was inside the garage. Since the men did not have someone the officer could call, and it was unknown how long either of them might be in custody, the officer removed the second dog and transported it to Jurupa Valley. He left a post-seizure notification at the residence with key information for the owners.

It was unknown if the owner of the Lab mix had intended to shoot the dog or if it was an accident due to his inebriated condition, Officer Fazio said. Riverside Police indicated it would take the lead on the investigation, considering the firearm discharge, and would handle any potential animal cruelty allegations and other matters.

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