LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  Authorities said Friday that two dogs believed to have been murdered around the Southland were not.

In fact, the LA Times reported that a “dog” reportedly decapitated at Ballona Creek and floating in the water turned out to be a raccoon whose head was still attached.

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The dog believed intentionally drowned at a beach in Marina del Rey actually had been hit by a car and was already dead when it was taken to the beach by its owner, authorities said Friday.

Officials said the dog’s owner was homeless and went to the Sheriff’s Marina del Rey station Thursday night to report the dog had been hit by a car and killed.

The mixed puppy’s body had been found March 16 by a group of lightweight-boat paddlers who said they noticed a blue-handled shovel sticking out of the water at Mother’s Beach in the 14100 block of Palawan Way. When they got closer, they found the dog with a shovel tied to it with a black rope around its neck.

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Numerous news reports led to rewards — around $20,000 — offered by animal rights groups and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to find the person responsible for the puppy’s death.

The owner of the dog, apparently unaware of the news reports, went to the sheriff’s station to report that his suitcase and other belongings had been stolen and to inquire about the whereabouts of his dog, which he said had been struck and killed by a car, Deputy Steve Wealer of the Marina del Rey Station said.

He said he had taken the dead animal to the beach because he wanted to wash its body before stuffing it, Wealer said.

Despite the homeless man’s claims, PETA’s president called for authorities to keep the case open until the results of a necropsy could confirm or refute the homeless man’s story, the Los Angeles Times said.

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