Riverside County animal control officers put out a call for public help Friday in identifying a man who dumped his 10-year-old Chihuahua in a grocery store parking lot east of Hemet after he finished shopping.
According to Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh, the male canine was left locked inside a doggy carrier on Jan. 19 in front of the
Stater Bros. supermarket at 43396 Florida Ave., in the unincorporated community of Valle Vista.
A store employee happened across the carrier and spotted the distressed black-and-white Chihuahua, prompting store management to call Animal Services.
"This was a tough one,” animal control Officer Kyle Stephens said. “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 entire life. Regardless, it is very sad and it’s also a crime.”
Willful abandonment of a pet is chargeable as misdemeanor cruelty to an animal, Welsh said. Stater Bros. employees obtained in-store and parking lot security surveillance video of the suspect and turned it over to the Department of Animal Services.
Images showed the man purchasing a few groceries and loading them into his vehicle, then casually removing the pet carrier from the car and leaving it nearby in the parking lot.
The man is about 5 feet 7 inches tall, in his late 30s to late 40s, with a medium build and black hair cropped on the front and sides but long in the back, similar to a ducktail. He appears to be white, Hispanic or Asian mixed race and was wearing eyeglasses, a blue hooded Nike sweatshirt, blue jean shorts and black sneakers.
He was driving a blue, older model four-door compact sedan, possibly a Ford. “Our investigation needs the public’s help,” animal services Cmdr. Chris Mayer said. “This man must be driving this same car. Also, the 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 Chihuahua is generally in good health, though in need of dental repairs, according to Welsh. He said because a crime may have been committed, the pooch won’t be available for adoption until after the investigation is completed.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Department of Animal Services at (951) 358-7387, or the sheriff’s Hemet station at (951) 791-3400.