A 28-year-old transient is suspected of animal cruelty after Santa Ana Police Department officers allegedly found him standing over a Chihuahua with multiple visual injuries, electrical wire around its legs and a bungee cord around its throat and chest.
Max did not belong to suspect Jose Manuel Pantoja, and the 13-year-old dog was being reunited with his family today, according to police.
The family had searched overnight for Max, who escaped from their yard after someone left a gate open, officers add.
Max had been with the family since he was a small puppy.
Around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, police dispatch received a call from a woman reporting that a small brown dog was being abused by a man behind a business at 431 E. First St., Santa Ana.
Here is the call, which is in Spanish:
The caller reported the dog had wires tied around his legs and was being kicked repeatedly by the man, according to police.
Arriving officers took Pantoja into custody without incident, and he was booked into the Santa Ana city jail on suspected cruelty to animals.
Max was taken to Orange County Emergency Pet Clinic for treatment.
Police say Pantoja, who was on probation at the time of his arrest, confirmed the dog did not belong to him, adding he did not know who owned Max and that the dog had just started following him.
Fortunately, Sgt. Mike McCarthy, who works with a Santa Ana Police canine, made it his mission to find Max’s owners, who were located on Monday and picked up their pooch at the pet clinic.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.