California

Puppy recovering from ‘deep road drag injuries.’ Case is murky, Riverside investigators say

Dragged dog gets comfort, bandages, recovering after animal abuse incident

It’s been a week or more since the German shepherd pup was dragged from a pickup truck and seriously injured in western Riverside County, and Riverside County Animal Services officers are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
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It’s been a week or more since the German shepherd pup was dragged from a pickup truck and seriously injured in western Riverside County, and Riverside County Animal Services officers are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

Her name is Beauty, she’s 7 months old, and she’s already been through a lot.

It’s been a week or more since the German shepherd pup was dragged from a pickup truck and seriously injured in rural Mead Valley in western Riverside County, and Riverside County Animal Services officers are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

The hurting pup is healing at the county’s animal shelter in Jurupa Valley, about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles. Television reports of Beauty’s ordeal and road to recovery have spread the shepherd’s story across the Southland.

Beauty’s injuries are serious. Her paw pads are shorn down to pink, wet skin, photos show. The veterinarians call the wounds “deep road drag injuries.” Tendons were exposed, officials said.

“It can be shocking what we experience,” said Riverside County Animal Services’ Will Luna in a news release Friday. Luna was the officer who responded to the dragging call.

Her chest, abdomen and hocks also have deep abrasive wounds, animal services spokesman John Welsh told The Sacramento Bee on Friday, reading from the vets’ medical reports. A video furnished by Riverside County Animal Services shows veterinarians caring for Beauty. The pup’s four paws are heavily bandaged in the image and she wears a protective cone over her head. Her abdomen was rubbed raw.

The story began July 29 and it’s a murky one. Animal officials aren’t shy about their skepticism. The headline on the office’s news release to Southern California media reads: “German Shepherd Seriously Injured after ‘Accident.’” The word “accident” appears in quotes.

Luna was called just before 7 p.m. to Carter Drive in Mead Valley, a foothill town of 18,000 just south of Riverside, officials said. A dog either fell or jumped out of the Toyota’s truck’s cargo bed, the caller said.

Shouting, waving residents along Carter Drive had already chased the driver, Beauty dragged alongside, before calling 911 for a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy.

Animal Services officials say the shepherd pup was likely dragged 30 yards or more.

“Some of the residents on this street, they couldn’t believe what was going on and they actually did think that the driver of the truck was doing this on purpose,” Welsh told Los Angeles television station KABC.

The driver told the deputy she was playing loud music and didn’t know Beauty had gone over the side, officials said. She told the deputy that she would take the shepherd to a veterinarian.

That didn’t happen, Animal Services was called and Luna carried Beauty off to the county’s treatment center in Jurupa Valley.

“The driver of the truck claims it was an accident (but) there are murky facts,” Welsh told The Bee Friday.

The dog’s reported owner was in the truck with the driver. Neither was cooperative and “we don’t know what was discussed between the dog owner, the truck driver and the neighborhood,” Welsh said.

A week later Riverside County is still investigating the incident as an open animal cruelty case and Welsh is frustrated. Even if officials find Beauty was not intentionally dragged, “Bottom line: you have some irresponsible people driving around.”

Transporting animals in trucks’ cargo beds can endanger them if they are not properly secured. Welsh says to place your pet inside a crate and cross-tether the crate to secure it inside the bed. California vehicle codes outline state requirements for securing animals.

“They’re not going to be named ‘Pet Owner of the Year’ by any means,” Welsh said.

Beauty’s owner still hasn’t shown up to the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter, but a potential adoption is still weeks away.

Beauty still has a lot of mending ahead. The veterinarians change her dressings every day at the shelter’s treatment facility, the same place Luna took her on July 29.

“Looking at the damage to the paws and also the abdomen, this poor thing suffered,” Welsh told KABC. “Despite what was done to her, she still shows love towards humans.”

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.
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