JURUPA VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Authorities have named a suspect in connection with a break-in at a Riverside County Animal Services shelter that led to the deaths of four dogs.
Riverside County sheriff’s officials say 42-year-old Jason Johnson became a suspect after two witnesses came forward and identified him. Johnson, who remains at large, is wanted for vandalism, burglary and animal cruelty.
“Mr. Johnson is actively wanted,” sheriff’s Capt. Jason Horton said. “That arrest warrant was walked through the court yesterday. It’s been entered into our system as being active, and several sheriff’s department investigators as we speak are actively attempting to track him down.”
The break-in at the Jurupa Valley shelter, 6851 Van Buren Blvd., happened between Saturday night and Sunday morning, according to John Welsh of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. Bolt cutters were used to intentionally cut 22 locks on kennels, releasing more than 40 dogs.
Sheriff’s officials said Johnson went to the facility with plans to take three pit bulls that were quarantined at the shelter. It’s not clear if he owned the dogs, which were facing possible euthanasia.
“The three dogs that are still missing were being held in an area where they were being held for quarantine purposes because they had been in a fight with other animals, they were considered dangerous by the animal control staff, pending a hearing,” sheriff’s Capt. Jason Horton said.
A Yorkshire terrier mix and a Chihuahua were found dead — likely mauled to death — inside the shelter Sunday morning and a third dog, a German Shepherd, was fatally struck by a car later that day, Welsh said. A fourth dog was also killed by a car Monday morning.
A reward is being offered leading to Johnson’s arrest and conviction.
“I hope the Sheriff’s Department gets him before anyone else because there is no telling what anybody else might do to him,” Vicki Chafee, a shelter visitor, said.
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