A pit bull mix snatched from a Riverside County animal shelter was found in Norco, but the search continues for three people who busted into the Jurupa Valley shelter and stole the canine, authorities said Thursday.
According to Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh, almost immediately after the agency disseminated information Wednesday regarding the theft, a representative from Norco Animal Control alerted county officials that a dog matching the description of the one taken had been impounded there last week -- one day after the break-in at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter.
Welsh said a county animal control officer confirmed it was the very same 3-year-old brindle-colored pit bull mix, and the pooch was transported back to Jurupa Valley.
"Our next step is getting the dog reunited with its rightful owner -- and we're holding out hope that we can accomplish that soon,'' said Animal Services Director Rob Miller.
A sheriff's investigation is underway into the May 3 burglary that culminated in the canine being stolen.
According to Welsh, a good Samaritan apparently found the pit bull mix wandering around, retrieved him and took him to the shelter about 9:30 p.m., during which time the facility is not staffed. The individual dropped the dog in an after-hours compartment that automatically locks after it's opened.
Welsh said an hour after the dog was dropped, a man, woman and teenage boy appeared. They were captured on security surveillance video cameras tampering with the compartment, which the youth was ultimately able to force open, enabling the trio to take the compliant pit by the collar to their vehicle, which was not captured on video.
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It's unknown where they went with the dog, but according to Welsh, the animal was located about 5:45 a.m. the following day -- unbeknownst to the Department of Animal Services -- on the porch of a Norco home, whose occupant called deputies to have the dog removed. He was placed in the Norco shelter that morning.
The dog is in good health and receiving care, Welsh said.
Anyone with information about the theft was asked to call the sheriff's Jurupa Valley station at (951) 955-2600.